Two SC judges raise questions over ‘unbridled’ powers of CJP

(L to R) Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Atta Bandyal and Justice Jamal Khan Mandukhel. Website of Supreme Court of Pakistan

In an unusual development in the Supreme Court, two Supreme Court judges questioned the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), saying the apex court “cannot depend on the sole judgment of one man, the Chief Justice”. . .

In the 27-page detailed judgment – ​​which purports to be a decision on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) plea seeking delay in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections – Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandukhel pointed out That it is important. “Revisiting the power of the ‘one-man show’ enjoyed by the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan”.

The development came after the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) challenging the election body’s order to postpone the Punjab Assembly polls till October 8 by adjourning the hearing on PTI’s plea.

“This Court cannot depend on the solitary judgment of one man, the Chief Justice, but must be regulated by a system of principles approved by all the Judges of the Court under Article 191 of the Constitution, under which they exercise their jurisdiction. to regulate the use of Article 184(3) including exercise Moto himself Scope; constitution of benches for hearing such cases; constitution of regular benches for hearing all other cases established in this Court; and Constitution of Special Benches.

Justice Shah and Justice Mandukhel highlighted the pitfalls of running a “one-man show”, saying that it leads to concentration of power in the hands of a single individual, making the system vulnerable to abuse of power.

“On the contrary, a collective system with checks and balances helps prevent abuses and errors in the exercise of power and promotes transparency and accountability,” he said, adding that it also ensures good governance because it depends on cooperation, shared decision-making and balance of power.

“When one person has too much power, there is a danger that the institution will become autocratic and insecure, leading to one-man policies,” the document said. which may have a tendency to go against the rights and interests of the people.” read

Noting that the justice system rests on public trust and confidence, the two judges stressed that “the one-man show needs to be revisited as it limits diverse perspectives.” , concentrates power, and increases the risk of an authoritarian regime”.

He mentioned that the Chief Justice of this court was vested with wide discretion under the existing Supreme Court Rules, 1980, in the matter of constituting the Benches and assigning cases to them.

Ironically, this Court has repeatedly stated how public officers should structure their discretion but leaves the Chief Justice with unfettered discretion in regulating jurisdiction under Article 184(3). So it has failed miserably to set the same standard. including suo motu) and in matters of constitution of benches and assignment of cases.

The Chief Justice has acquired this unbridled power to take cognizance of any matter and to constitute special benches after hearing the cases and assign cases to them, which has damaged his honor and dignity. court.”

‘Court has entered the political bush’

He said the court had been drawn into a “political thicket” through “su moto” proceedings and related constitutional petitions, which began last year with the dissolution of Pakistan’s National Assembly and the dissolution of two provincial assemblies. Dissolution has been reached. After the province this year went through controversies over the counting of votes of defecting members of political parties and election to the post of Chief Minister of a province and that too exercising its original jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. of

This is a developing story and is being updated with more details…

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