CJP should form full court to hear NAB amendments case: Justice Mansoor

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CJP Umar Ata Bandial (left) and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah (right). — SC website
CJP Umar Ata Bandial (left) and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah (right). — SC website 
  • Case can be heard by at least 5-member bench, says top court judge.
  • Justice Mansoor slams PTI’s lawyer for not responding to questions.
  • Case to be heard on a daily basis from August 28, says CJP.

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Judge Justice Mansoor Ali Shah on Friday advised Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial to form a full court to hear the Pakistan Tekreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition challenging the amendments in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law.

“I think that the NAB amendments case should be heard by the full court; the case will have its own impact,” Justice Mansoor remarked during the 48th hearing on the petition.

Headed by CJP Bandial, a three-member bench, comprising Justice Mansoor and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the petitions.

Justice Mansoor further said that the Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan had raised an objection in the military court’s case.

“Under Sections 3 and 4 of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, the case should be heard by a bench of at least 5 members,” he remarked, adding that the CJP should constitute a full court for the case.

Justice Mansoor said he had also suggested that a full court be formed for hearing the petitions challenging the military trials of civilians.

“My objection is that only the full court should hear such cases. The Supreme Court should first decide on the practice and procedure law,” he said during the hearing.

“The Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act has not been decided yet. If it had, the matter would have been different,” he observed.

It must be noted that Justice Mansoor was one of the two judges who earlier said that it was important “to revisit the power of ‘one-man show’ enjoyed by the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan [Umar Ata Bandial]”.

During the hearing, Yasir Aman, the assistant counsel of Khawaja Haris — the PTI’s counsel — told the court that Haris had asked for Aman to appear in his place owing to poor health.

The Supreme Court allowed Aman to present arguments.

At the outset, Justice Mansoor slammed the PTI’s lawyer for failing to respond to what fundamental rights the amendments were circumventing.

“If you recall, I also asked during the 47th hearing which fundamental rights are being affected by the NAB amendments,” he remarked, adding that the question was put in the first hearing as well.

“The petitioner’s counsel could not give a satisfactory answer to the question of fundamental rights asked multiple times,” Justice Mansoor said.

During the hearing, CJP Bandial remarked: “I don’t think we can review the amendments made to the law in 2023. The NAB amendments of 2022 were challenged before the court.”

He then directed the PTI counsel to submit the new NAB amendments and their written responses and postponed the hearing till August 28.

He added that the case would be heard on a daily basis from August 28.

“We want to dispose of the case as one of the members of the bench is nearing retirement.”

However, he cautioned: “It is not necessary that the verdict will be on the merits of the NAB amendments case. It is possible that the decision will come on the admissibility of the case.”

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