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Bill Clipping Pakistan Chief Justice’s Powers Becomes Law

A bill seeking to reduce the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu action and constitute benches has finally become law, despite the top court’s order to stop its enforcement. The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 is deemed to have been assented by the President w.e.f. April 21, 2023, the National Assembly Secretariat said in a notification. President Dr Arif Alvi had returned the bill unsigned to parliament, twice, seeking a rethink but the government stood its ground. The Supreme Court had ruled that whether the bill received the President’s assent or it was deemed to have been given, “the act that comes into being shall not have, take or be given any effect (and) not be acted upon in any manner”. Through the Act, the government has limited the Chief Justice’s powers to take suo motu notice and constitute benches on his own in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to order elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa within 90 days of their dissolution, among other such decisions. The Act says any such decisions will have to be heard by a bench formed by a panel comprising the top three senior judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, reports The Express Tribune.

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