ISLAMABAD: In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday declared the Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 null and void, terming it unconstitutional and against the basic structure of the constitution. The act, which was passed by the National Assembly in June 2023, empowered the parliament to review any judgment or order of the apex court within six months of its pronouncement.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, announced the reserved verdict on a set of petitions challenging the validity of the act. The bench ruled that the act was an encroachment on the judicial independence and authority of the Supreme Court, and violated the principle of separation of powers and checks and balances among the organs of the state.
The bench observed that the act was an attempt to undermine the finality and binding effect of the judgments and orders of the Supreme Court, which are guaranteed by Article 189 of the Constitution. The bench also noted that the act was inconsistent with the oath taken by the members of parliament to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
The bench further stated that the act was not a valid exercise of legislative power, as it did not fall within any of the subjects enumerated in the Federal Legislative List or the Concurrent Legislative List. The bench added that the act was also contrary to the democratic norms and values, as it was passed without any meaningful debate or consultation with the stakeholders, including the judiciary, the bar associations, and the civil society.
The bench declared that the act was null and void ab initio, meaning that it never came into existence or had any legal effect. The bench also directed that any proceedings initiated or pending under the act before any forum shall stand terminated forthwith.
The verdict was welcomed by the legal fraternity and the opposition parties, who hailed it as a victory for the rule of law and constitutional supremacy. They also praised the courage and wisdom of the Supreme Court judges for upholding their oath and defending their institution from any unlawful interference.
The government, however, expressed its disappointment and resentment over the verdict, saying that it was a violation of parliamentary sovereignty and an intrusion into its domain. The government also accused the Supreme Court of exceeding its jurisdiction and acting as a super-legislature. The government said that it would explore all legal options to challenge or review the verdict.