In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has started live streaming of hearings related to a series of petitions challenging the controversial Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023. This law mandates the formation of tribunals to deliberate on constitutional matters of public importance, and stipulates that such courts must be composed of a committee consisting of three senior judges of the Pakistani court, Karachi-based news outlet Dawn reported.
This decision coincided with Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa’s first day in office. In a prelude to the hearing, CJP Isa called a full court meeting. Immediately after being sworn in on Sunday, Justice Isa, whose term runs until October 2024, convened a full court to address a set of allegations challenging the aforementioned legislation. According to Dawn, this legislation had been stayed by the Supreme Court during the tenure of former CJP Umar Ata Bandial in April.
The court, headed by CJP Isa, has a distinguished lineup, including Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Musarrat Hilali.
Before the hearing began, the federal government filed a petition with the Supreme Court, urging that petitions challenging the law be dismissed. Pakistan’s Attorney General (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan argued that petitions challenging an act of Parliament were inadmissible.
Judge Isa rejects the guard of honor
Pakistani Justice Isa refused to receive a guard of honor upon his arrival at the Supreme Court in Islamabad on his first day as the new Chief Justice. Instead, he was greeted by court staff and received a bouquet of flowers from the clerk.
“Thank you all very much. We need a lot of cooperation from all of you,” he said, expressing his gratitude to the staff. He promised detailed meetings with them and took note of the full court hearing scheduled for that day.
CJP Isa stressed that people normally came to the high court not when they were happy but when they were looking for solutions to their pressing problems. She asked court staff to treat visitors as “guests” and emphasized the importance of keeping the doors of the Supreme Court open and accessible to all. “Help those who come (to the SC),” she urged.