Supreme Court rules only chief justice has suo motu powers thumbnail

Supreme Court rules only chief justice has suo motu powers

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has laid down rules for its judges to invoke the suo motu jurisdiction, declaring that only the chief justice had powers to take suo motu notice and other judges needed his approval to use these powers.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Justice Qazi Faiz Isa’s suo motu notice of August 20 in a case pertaining
to harassment of journalists stood withdrawn.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel had taken up a case suo motu after an application was moved by the Press Association of the Supreme Court, which highlighted frequent incidents of harassment of journalists. The bench had said that since the application concerned matters of public importance and the enforcement of fundamental rights, it met the criteria for invoking the suo motu jurisdiction of the SC under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. The bench, then, issued notices to concerned authorities.

However, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the acting chief justice at present, constituted a larger five-judge bench on Saturday to delineate rules on the invocation of the court’s suo motu jurisdiction.

On Thursday, the five-member bench issued what has been described as ‘a remarkable verdict.’ The court declared that no bench had the authority to invoke the suo motu jurisdiction, though it could send its recommendations to the Chief Justice on the invocation of suo motu jurisdiction. The court added that no bench had the authority to summon any person or report under suo motu proceedings.

The court ruled that journalists’ application was to be
placed before the Chief Justice.

Earlier, the court had reserved its judgment to be announced
on the same day when the court resumed after the break.

During the proceeding, Justice Bandialsaid said there were no doubts about the heavy-handedness meted out to journalists and their application still stood relevant and would be heard.

Justice Qazi Amin said the court believed an attack on media was an attack on the judiciary and it would not disappoint journalists.

Justice Ijaz ul Hassan said the Supreme Court would stand up
“like a wall” if journalists were wronged.

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