Pakistan's government has enacted a new law to provide the right of appeal against conviction by the Supreme Court under its original jurisdiction, possibly creating an opportunity for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to challenge his disqualification, it emerged on Monday.
Sharif was disqualified in 2017 by a five-member bench of the apex court but he couldn't file an appeal as there was no law to challenge the judgment of the top judiciary.
President Arif Alvi on Friday signed the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023 that provides the right of appeal under Article 184 of the Constitution, which was not available in the past. The law applies to past verdicts as well.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, “it is necessary to ensure the fundamental right to justice by providing for meaningful review of judgments and orders passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184”.
It also states that in case of the apex court judgment under Article 184 of the Constitution, the scope of review shall be the same as an appeal under Article 185.
"In case of judgments and orders of the Supreme Court in the 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," the law reads.
The law also states that for reviewing a suo motu judgement, a bigger bench — than the one that issued the order — will hear the case.
Supreme Court Bar Association welcomed step
The Supreme Court Bar Association's former president Amanullah Kanrani welcomed the new law and said it was demanded by the legal community. "Nawaz Sharif can challenge his disqualification within 60 days of enactment as provided in the law,” he said.
However, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar said that Sharif cannot get benefits as he had filed a review against his conviction. “He had filed a review which was rejected,” Tarar said.
Gohar Khan, a lawyer representing Imran Khan, said that the new law would be challenged. “It is an effort to interfere in the affairs of the judiciary and it will be challenged,” he said.
It is believed that the law has been enacted with Sharif in mind and the law minister has tried to divert attention so that it is not challenged. It is said that Sharif had filed a review against the conviction but it was not akin to the right of appeal given in the new law.