ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday disposed of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan’s (JI) petition against the 2005 privatisation of K-Electric (KE) as “ineffective.”
During earlier proceedings, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial had said that the top court would not interfere in economic matters as it did not have the required ‘expertise’ as a bench heard the KE privatisation case.
CJP Bandial had advised the petitioner’s lawyer, Rashid Razvi, to approach the concerned high court in the matter.
He had highlighted, however, that the parliament made two laws related to clause 3 of Article 184 – which state that for the court to have original jurisdiction on an issue, it first needs to be of public importance and must involve a violation of fundamental rights enshrined within the Constitution.
“A lot has happened in the past in Article 184(3) cases,” observed Justice Athar Minallah during the hearing today, noting that the Pakistan Steel Mill case was also heard under the same provisions.
“Why should the court take up this case against the privatisation of KE?” he questioned, adding that the JI had access to the parliament and urged the party to raise the issue over there instead.
“This plea under Article 184(3) is against the economic policy of the government,” the judge continued.
“If the parliament fails, then the option of the judiciary always remains,” argued the JI’s counsel; but he was snubbed by Justice Minallah who advised him not to say “that the parliament has failed”.
“Wouldn’t the parliament fail if there is no respect for the institution?” inquired the judge, urging the JI to uphold the sanctity of the country’s highest forum of debate.
Justice Ayesha Malik also joined her colleague in his reservations over the petition adding that “the SC has already decided that such matters are Nepra’s jurisdiction”.
CJP Bandial observed that “two judges have raised legal points in the case”, adding that “we will not look into how much investment came in and what were its outcomes”.
“We speak from experience when we say that it is very easy to dismiss and extremely difficult to pull things together,” he added.
The CJP also noted that the privatisation was a result of “unresolved public grievances” and said that “it is difficult to go into details at this point”.
“If the SC writes in its orders that it is to stay out of economic matters then that could have far-reaching consequences,” CJP Bandial stated as he urged the JI to withdraw its application instead and consult the relevant forum.
After judicial observations, all the petitioners, including the JI, withdrew their petitions and the court disposed of the petitions.
Ataul Haq Qasmi case
Separately, the SC permitted a petition seeking revision of its decision declaring perks granted to former managing director and chairman of Pakistan Television (PTV) Ataul Haq Qasmi as illegal.
The apex court has ordered the revision appeals filed to be numbered.
The petitioners were also permitted to change their lawyers under the new laws.
Lawyer Akram Sheikh appeared on behalf of the former PTV MD and lawyer Salman Butt represented Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while Pervez Rashid was also granted permission to change his lawyer.
“In view of the new law, want to state additional facts in revision appeals,” said Akram Sheikh.
Upon this, CJP Bandial said that a review appeal could be reviewed under the recently passed Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Bill, 2023.
“The SC had pronounced the decision of the MD PTV case under 184(3),” observed Justice Athar Minallah, “therefore, the petitioners should take advantage of the new law.”
“Your review request is pending,” Justice Ayesha Malik said, “Additional points in the pending revision may also be submitted through a miscellaneous application.”
The proceedings were then adjourned indefinitely.
Notably, according to the statement of the objects and reasons of the Act, it is necessary to ensure fundamental rights to justice by providing for meaningful review of judgments and orders passed by the SC in exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184.
It states that in case of judgment and orders of the Supreme Court 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.”
Previously, the bench that issued the original judgment would hear the review petition as well.
However, under the new law: “A review petition shall be heard by a bench larger than the bench which passed the original judgment in order. The review petitioner shall have the right to appoint any advocate of the Supreme Court of his choice for the review petition.”
It says the right to file a review petition shall also be available to an aggrieved person against whom an order has been made under clause (3) of the Article 184 of the Constitution, prior to the recommendation of this legislation.
“The petition shall be filed within sixty days of the commencement of this legislative piece. The legislation shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, rules or regulations for the time being in force of the judgment of any court including the Supreme Court and a high court.”