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Pakistani Supreme Court Orders Postponement of Cases Amidst Tensions

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The Pakistani Supreme Court has ordered that all cases being heard under Article 184(3) of the Constitution be postponed until amendments are made to the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, regarding the discretionary powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP). This decision was made by a three-judge special bench of the Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and formed by CJP Umar Ata Bandial. Justice Aminuddin Khan endorsed Justice Isa’s views, but Justice Shahid Waheed dissented from the order.

The ruling came as the National Assembly passed the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure), Bill 2023, which curbs the CJP’s suo motu powers. Justice Isa had previously questioned whether the Supreme Court rules allow the formation of special benches, which he believes creates “misgivings” and opens the court to criticism. He expressed concerns about the court’s lack of accountability and the delay in listing cases for hearing.

The ban on criticizing state institutions by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) also drew criticism from Justice Isa, who questioned what the term “state institutions” even means. Legal experts are debating whether changes are occurring in the apex court, as there is a perception that some judges are being preferred for politically sensitive cases.

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