April 18, 2023
By Hamza Saeed
The Pakistan Bar Council observed Tuesday, April 18, as a “Black Day” to protest the suspension of the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act, 2023 by the country’s apex court. The move has been met with strong opposition from the legal fraternity across the country.
The PBC has also called for an all-Pakistan Convention on April 29 under its auspices, to be hosted by the Balochistan Bar Council. The Conference announced April 18, 2023, as “Black Day” as a mark of protest.
PBC Conference Held Ahead of Black Day
A representative conference of the PBC was held a day before at the PBC office in the Supreme Court building. The conference was attended by the representatives of all the bar councils, including the Supreme Court and High Court Bar Associations. A resolution adopted by the conference questioned the filing of a petition under Article 184(3) even before the proposed act came into effect and the passing of interim orders suspending the proposed law by a bench that was made of “choice” judges by excluding the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
Joint Declaration by PBC
The PBC has also issued a joint declaration demanding the amendment of Supreme Court Rules, 1980. This includes the exercise of powers by Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan on frequently taking suo moto notices under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, discretionary powers with regard to constitution of Benches and fixation of cases in urgent matters, right of litigants to change Counsel in Review matters, and right of appeal against orders passed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. Passing of the Proposed “Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act, 2023” has also been demanded unanimously by the legal fraternity.
Rejection of Suspension of Proposed Act
The filing of the petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution before the proposed Act comes into effect and passing of interim orders suspending the proposed Act by the Bench of Judges of the Choice of the Hon’ble Chief Justice, excluding the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, has been rejected by the legal fraternity.
Call for Political Conferences and Resolution of Political Issues
The PBC has called upon the present government and the ruling political parties to hold an All Parties Conference (APC) within the parliament or outside the parliament to resolve political and constitutional issues. It has also demanded free, fair and transparent elections of the national and provincial assemblies at one time on the date agreed by all the political parties as per mandate of the constitution. It was emphasized that political issues and crises should be resolved by the political parties by mutual deliberations and not through the court of law.
Appeal for Restraint; Call for Lawyers’ Conference
The PBC has appealed to the Supreme Court to show restraint from accelerating the political crises by allowing time to the political forces to resolve the political issues and by recalling the interim orders suspending the proposed Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act, 2023.
They also announced that duly elected representatives of the bar councils and bar associations will be compelled to call upon the legal fraternity to launch a country-wide movement to protect the democratic and constitutional rights of the people. The movement will start with lawyers’ conferences being held in the capital cities of all the provinces.