Suo motu rulings: NA panel backs bill limiting appeal hearing to larger benches only

Law Reforms (Amendment) Act aims to stop ‘misuse’ of exclusive jurisdiction


Azam Khan July 07, 2015
Law Reforms (Amendment) Act aims to stop ‘misuse’ of exclusive jurisdiction. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has unanimously passed a bill on the right to appeal in suo motu cases. As per the Law Reforms (Amendment) Act, only larger benches can hear appeals against judgments in suo motu cases to prevent misuse of exclusive jurisdiction.

The law and justice committee of the lower house met at the Parliament House on Monday with MNA Chaudhry Muhammad Bashir Virk in the chair. The committee members held the unanimous opinion that the jurisdiction of suo motu cases had often been misused by the courts.

Secretary Law and Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan said that taking suo motu action had become a fashion, adding that through a recent ruling, the Supreme Court had restricted the high courts from exercising this jurisdiction. “The right of suo motu action has been taken back from the high courts.”

However, the law ministry did not oppose the bill moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Ayaz Soomro, who said the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) had taken suo motu action on a liquor bottle found in possession of actor-turned-politician Atiqa Odho.

Justice (retd) Iftikhar Ahmad Cheema said the former CJP had also taken suo motu notice on a pension case and altered the judgment of the apex court. He said no bill could be more important in building a wall against such misuse of the suo motu jurisdiction.

Hindu marriages bill deferred

A bill on the Hindu marriage registration process has been deferred for one more month. The law ministry informed the lawmakers that the provinces had not adopted the resolution, which had enabled the federal government to legislate for all the provinces.

After the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment, the country’s minorities are being dealt as a provincial subject.

PP.P MNA Ayaz Soomro said his party was not against the bill. However, he failed to satisfy the lawmakers why the ruling party in Sindh could not ensure passage of a resolution on the issue.

A senior official of the law ministry told The Express Tribune that the Sindh government was not supportive towards the legislation. He said two bills – regarding Hindu marriages and forceful conversions – were pending with the provincial assembly for a long time. After hearing all the arguments, the panel decided that it would take up the issue again next month.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.

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