Pakistani parliament approves new law to curtail chief justice’s powers

According to law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Pakistan’s parliament has passed a new legislation to limit the chief justice of the Supreme Court’s authority. This comes amid a dispute between the government and the higher judiciary.

The measure was introduced by Tarar on Wednesday in the parliament’s lower house, and on Thursday it was approved by the senate, or upper house.

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“The parliament has passed the bill,” Tarar told reporters on Friday.

The Supreme Court and the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif are at odds over the holding of early elections in two provinces where former leader Imran Khan had earlier this year disbanded local administrations in an effort to compel early elections.

The government claims that holding the snap elections first and then another general election this year is not fiscally feasible.

The two provinces must hold the snap elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the two local governments, which is by 30 April, according to a ruling issued by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

According to a copy of the new draft law, which has been forwarded to Pakistan’s president for approval, the chief justice no longer has the authority to form panels, hear appeals, or delegate cases to judges on his staff.

These tasks will now be done by a three-member committee headed by the chief justice with his two most senior judges as members.

“Every cause, appeal or matter before the Supreme Court shall be heard and disposed of by a bench constituted by the committee comprising the Chief Justice of Pakistan and two most senior judged, in order of seniority,” it said.

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