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Two SC judges challenge powers of Chief justice of Pakistan

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Islamabad | March 28, 2023 7:04:36 AM IST
Pakistan, which is going through a worst economic crisis amidst growing political instability, is now facing a daunting task to keep the Judiciary intact as two judges of the Pakistani Supreme Court have challenged the powers of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), saying the apex court "cannot be dependent on the solitary decision of one man, the Chief Justice", Geo News reported.

In a 27-page note for the apex court's March 1 verdict in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suo motu, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail called it important "to revisit the power of 'one-man show' enjoyed by the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan [Umar Ata Bandial]," as per the Geo News report.

The decision of the judges came after the Supreme Court of Pakistan served notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan, adjourning the hearing on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) petition challenging the electoral body's decisions to delay Punjab Assembly polls till October 8, as per the news report.

It reads, "This court cannot be dependent on the solitary decision of one man, the Chief Justice, but must be regulated through a rule-based system approved by all Judges of the Court under Article 191 of the Constitution, in regulating the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 184(3) including the exercise of suo motu jurisdiction; the constitution of Benches to hear such cases; the constitution of Regular Benches to hear all the other cases instituted in this Court; and the constitution of Special Benches."

Expressing their views against running a "one-man show", Justice Shah and Justice Mandokhail stressed that it results in a concentration of power in the hands of one individual, making the system more susceptible to the abuse of power.

The judges said that a collegial system with checks and balances helps "prevent the abuse and mistakes in the exercise of power and promote transparency and accountability." The two judges further said that collegial system ensures good governance as it rests on collaboration, shared decision-making and balance of power,Geo News reported.

The document reads, "When one person has too much power, there is a risk that the institution may become autocratic and insulated, resulting in one-man policies being pursued, which may have a tendency of going against the rights and interests of the people."

The two judges said that the judicial system stands on public trust and confidence and stressed that the "one-man show needs a revisit as it limits diverse perspectives, concentrates power, and increases the risk of an autocratic rule." They said that the chief justice was conferred with wide discretion in the matter of constituting benches and assigning cases to them.

The two judges termed it "unbridled power" enjoyed by the chief justice in taking up any matter as a suo motu case and forming special benches that have "brought severe criticism and lowered the honour and prestige of this court." (ANI)

 
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