ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly criticized President Arif Alvi, labeling him as a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, after he refused to sign the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023.
Controversial Bill Aimed at Curtailing Chief Justice’s Powers:
The bill was aimed at curtailing the powers of the Chief Justice, including the formation of benches and suo motu . The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has condemned the move, calling it an “attack on the judiciary”. President Alvi has sought advice from PTI Chairman Imran Khan on crucial matters, including the appointment of the Chief of Army Staff, and has previously returned bills and refused to administer the oath to several members of the federal cabinet, including PM Shehbaz.
Prime Minister Criticizes President’s Actions :
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has criticized President Alvi’s actions, calling him a worker of the PTI and stating that the president has belittled his office through his actions as he follows the PTI chief’s orders rather than fulfilling his constitutional duties. The bill’s return has triggered a potential constitutional crisis in the country.
President Seeks Reconsideration of Bill:
In his letter to PM Shehbaz Sharif, President Alvi said that he thought it fit and proper to return the bill, in accordance with the Constitution, with the request for reconsideration in order to meet the scrutiny about its validity (if assailed in the Court of Law). President Alvi said that SC Rules 1980 had been “made and in force duly validated and adopted by the Constitution itself” under enabling provisions such as Article 191 of the Constitution which empowers the top court to make rules regulating the practice and procedure of the court. “These time-tested rules are being followed ever since the year 1980 —any tinkering with the same may tantamount to interference with the internal working of the Court, its autonomy and independence,” the letter stated.
Political and Constitutional Crisis Deepens:
The bill’s approval and subsequent return have deepened the political and constitutional crisis in the country, which has already been marred by controversy surrounding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The government is now likely to get the bill through a joint session of parliament, after President Alvi refused to assent to the legislation, citing concerns that it travels beyond the competence of the parliament and can be assailed as colourable legislation.