A full court meeting with all 15 judges of the Supreme Court met on Monday under newly-appointed Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, with an agenda covering the live broadcast of courtroom proceedings and pending petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023.
A full court bench hearing pleas challenging the legislation, which was suspended by the apex court in April, will follow the full court meeting. The legislation calls for formation of benches on constitutional matters of public importance to be determined by a committee of three senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. It also limits the CJP’s powers to take suo motu notice. This has been perceived by critics as an “attack” on the CJP’s mandate as “master of the roster.”
Following the retirement of Umar Ata Bandial, the SC currently has 15 judges, with two vacancies. All sitting judges—Justices Sardar Tariq Masood, Ijazul Ahsan, Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Munib Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Ayesha A. Malik, Athar Minallah, Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Shahid Waheed and Musarrat Hilali—are in attendance.
Earlier, the Supreme Court—for the first time in Pakistan’s history—decided that the full court proceedings on petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023 would be broadcast live. It is likely that the case would be wrapped up today, as several judges are due to travel abroad for various engagements and a full court is only available for today (Monday).
To facilitate the live broadcast, five cameras have been installed in courtroom number one, with proceedings livecast on state-run PTV. According to local media, instructions for the live broadcast were issued yesterday hours after Justice Isa took oath as the CJP.
Also on Monday, Justice Isa refused to receive a guard of honor upon arriving at the SC for his first day as the new chief justice. “Thank you all so much. We need a lot of cooperation from you all,” he told the staff, adding he would hold detailed meetings with them later.
CJP Isa observed that people did not approach the top court when they were “happy,” adding the people wanted an end to the issues that plagued them. He urged the court staff to treat all visitors like “guests,” calling on them to keep the doors of the top court open and accessible for all. “Help those coming,” he added.