ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution, moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar, to enact laws providing the right to revise decisions taken by the Supreme Court in suo moto cases.
There was no objection to the resolution from the treasury benches when Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani put it before the House, and it was thus unanimously adopted.
Senator Babar termed the unanimous adoption of the resolution a “landmark development because it placed an obligation on the government to adopt appropriate legislation to streamline the suo moto procedure.”
“A great potential harm in readily taking too many suo moto notices is that when the Supreme Court takes up cases, the parties involved are denied the right to appeal since SC verdicts cannot be appealed,” he said, sharing his concern.
The PPP legislator said some suo moto notices provided “great relief” and are welcome without doubt. But he stressed it also placed “vast powers” in the hands of the judiciary.
“The greater the power in the hands of an individual or an institution, the greater is the need and responsibility to exercise it with abundant caution. Any power that is not regulated by law or exercised excessively can result in very serious consequences,” he said, while talking to media.
Farhatullah Babar recalled a question raised two years ago by Senator Karim Khwaja regarding details of suo moto action taken by each High Court since 2009.
“Three high courts did not furnish replies at the time, while the Sindh High Court said it had not taken any suo moto notice since 2009.”
The Islamabad Hight Court, in response, said seeking such information amounted to having a “check on the judiciary” which militates against its independence, Babar recalled.
He said some earlier suo moto cases such as granting bail in the case of “two wine bottles” and the case of Hussain Haqqani’s Memogate controversy had raised questions in legal circles.
The parliamentarian informed reporters that the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) delegation after visiting Pakistan said courts exceeded the “limits of a reasonable use” of this procedure.
The report said this could lead to a corrosion of the rule of law and a blurring of the constitutional separation of powers, added Babar.
No one is authorised to use the vast powers vested in their hands at their own whim and pleasure nor should its use appear as a “favour to one and a punishment to another,” he said.
“Questions are bound to be raised when suo moto powers are excercised in a manner that seems to be treading into the domain of other institutions. The exercise of suo moto powers must make a citizen feel that he is being provided his right and not a bounty from the court.”
“Its exercise must be guided by law and not by populism. This calls for regulating the use of suo moto powers purely under legislation,” Babar said.
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