Pakistan’s Supreme Court struck down a law concerning court judgements, terming it unconstitutional, jeoparding Sharif’s prospects of making a comeback.
Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for life by the apex court of Pakistan in 2018 in relation to corruption charges after the much-publicised Panama Papers leak.
Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharief and ex-Pakistani lawmaker Jahangir Tareen were seeking to challenge their lifetime disqualifications under Article 62 of the Constitution. They would have gotten the opportunity to fulfill their political ambitions amid the upcoming general election, had the verdict been in favour of the petitions.
The decision on the Supreme Court Review of Judgements and Orders Act 2023 was reserved by a three-member bench on June 19. The law provided a right to appeal under Article 184(3), which gives the court power to assume jurisdiction over any “question of public importance.”
The verdict, however, said the law was out of the scope of parliament’s legislation and is “accordingly struck down as null and void and of no legal effect.”
The apex court said the parliament cannot legislate regarding any matter relating to its “jurisdiction and powers.”
The legislation was introduced by the coalition government, whose tenure ended earlier this week, and was passed by the National Assembly on April 14.
The bill received the seal of approval from the Senate—the upper house of parliament—on May 5 before it was sent to President Arif Alvi who signed the act into law.
However, the law had sailed through parliament, apparently without the knowledge of the SC until Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan had submitted the Senate Secretariat’s gazette notification to the same three-member bench during a hearing of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) review petition against its April order with regard to the provision of elections in Punjab.
The bench had abruptly adjourned proceedings at the time and later decided to hear the petitions filed against the review law together with the poll authority’s review plea, but clarified that it would hear the petitions against the Review of Judgments Act first and the Punjab election revision case later.
During later proceedings, the bench had remained critical of the law, with the CJP highlighting certain loopholes in the Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023.
He had noted that a “super appeal” had been created through this law.
Notably, according to the statement of the objects and reasons of the act, it was necessary to ensure fundamental rights to justice by providing for a meaningful review of judgments and orders passed by the SC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184.
It stated that in case of judgment and orders of the SC in exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184 of the Constitution, the scope of review on both facts and law, shall be the same as an appeal under Article 185 of the Constitution.
Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan gives the Supreme Court the extraordinary power to assume jurisdiction over any “question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any…fundamental right.”