Orders issued in chambers illegal: SC

Top court calls into question functioning of its human rights cell

Hasnaat Malik November 09, 2023
A general view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan April 4, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS


The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the chief justice of Pakistan could not pass any order in his chamber except in those matters mentioned in the SC Rules 1980.

A three-member bench, led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aminuddin Khan, while hearing a complaint filed by a woman against a housing society owner during the tenure of former top judge Saqib Nisar, ruled that orders issued in chambers could not be categorised as legal.

“The CJP alone is not the Supreme Court,” observed Justice Minallah. “It is the judges and the CJP, who [together] form the apex court,” he added.

The observations made by the bench have raised serious questions on the legality of the functioning of the Supreme Court Human Rights Cell (SCHRC), which has been operational since 2005.

The court wondered as to how the CJP could summon parties in his chamber and pass directions to the relevant authorities.

Read more: SC resolves 1,419 cases in CJP Isa’s first month

The bench noted that matters of public interest could only be heard under the Constitution’s Article 184(3), wherein it was mandatory for the matter to be scheduled for hearing before the court.

CJP Isa observed that there were three opinions on invoking jurisdiction under Article 184(3).

First the CJP will invoke this jurisdiction, secondly the bench will initiate proceedings and finally a full court should be convened to hear such matters.

However, Justice Isa noted there was no opinion in the top court that suggested that the CJP could pass directions in his chamber.

“The CJP alone cannot pass any order in public interest matters,” the top judge observed.

Justice Minallah concurred with the CJP that matters related to Article 184(3) could not be taken up in the chamber.

He wondered why attorney generals had not yet raised any objection over the orders issued in the chamber of the top judge.

Justice Minallah also observed that the SCHRC had become a source of injustice.

Also read: SC orders CBs to refund of professional taxes

During the proceedings, the SCHRC director referred to an order issued by a full court on December 12, 2019, wherein the need to frame rules to streamline the apex court’s human rights cell was identified.

However, the director informed the court that no meeting on the matter had been held until September 18 of this year.

The bench also disposed of a constitutional petition filed by the owner of a housing society, Top City, in connection with his alleged abduction.

The petition was filed against retired army officers, including former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed.

The court noted that the petitioner could approach avail a remedy from the proper forum as mentioned by the additional attorney general.

On the query of the bench, Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Amir Rehman said that the petitioner could file representation before the defence ministry against respondents along with registration of criminal case and filing of civil case.

The petitioner stated that Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) along with the ISI illegally raided the head office in G11 markaz and his house on May 12, 2017 on direction of Faiz Hameed. He was remained in their custody for several days.

The petitioner requested the defence ministry to initiate inquiry against all officials through their competent authority.


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