Joint Session of Parliament Approves Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill

Mon Apr 10 2023
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ISLAMABAD: The joint session of parliament on Monday approved the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, to curtail the chief justice’s suo motu powers.

The federal government of Pakistan presented the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, in a joint session of parliament on Monday. The bill was presented after President Arif Alvi returned a bill that curtailed the chief justice’s suo motu powers last week.

Federal Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar tabled the bill in the joint session of the parliament.

Additionally, a bill titled “Charged Sums for General Elections of Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bill 2023” was presented in both houses of parliament. The bill was presented just hours before the Supreme Court’s deadline for the disbursal of Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the upcoming polls.

The Supreme Court had directed the federal government to release the funds to the ECP by April 10. While presenting the bill in the National Assembly, the finance minister stated that it is now the responsibility of parliament to decide whether the funds should be released or not.

Election Charge Expenditure Bill 2023 tabled in Parliament

The finance minister argued that holding snap polls ordered by the apex court would not be in the national interest due to security and economic concerns. The government has laid this bill before the parliament in light of the Supreme Court’s orders to release funds to the ECP.

The finance minister also maintained that conducting elections is a constitutional responsibility, but it requires that polling for national and all the provincial assemblies be held simultaneously under caretaker setups. He argued that this would reduce expenditures and ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.

The National Assembly Speaker referred the bill to the relevant standing committee and adjourned the session till Thursday (April 13) 2 pm.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) registered strong protests against the government’s decision to refer the funds’ disbursal issue to parliament, calling out the coalition government for their “ill practices”. The opposition party accused the government of attempting to use parliament to stop the elections and end the independence of the judiciary.

The federal cabinet had earlier directed the finance minister to prepare a summary for the release of elections funds for the guidance of parliament. The Law Minister briefed the cabinet on all the legal and constitutional aspects of the Supreme Court directives and the release of funds to the ECP.

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