The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Saturday said Article 184(3) of the Constitution mandated it to take up cases of violation of fundamental rights, anywhere inside the country,that are guaranteed by the Constitution — a jurisdiction which it enjoyed along with all high courts in Pakistan.
In response to a statement made by the International Commission of Jurists , SC Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain explained that the press conference by the member of the ICJ appeared to be based on some miscomprehension, perhaps ignorance, of the constitutional provisions and case law developed on the issue.
Mr Stefan Trechsel, the visiting ICJ head said and urged at a news conference asking SC to exercise restraint in taking up cases on suo motu basis because very frequent use of this procedure could endanger the rule of law. He had stressed that there was a need for transparency in allocation of such cases to different benches.
The statement issued by the Supreme Court registrar recalled that the procedure for processing suo motu cases was prescribed in Order XXV of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980; besides, he added, the issue had long been settled by the Supreme Court in successive judgments, including in the case of Ms Benazir Bhutto versus Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1988 SC 416). In that judgment, the statement said, the apex court while interpreting Articles 184(3) and 199 of the Constitution had observed that the procedural trappings and limitations of Article 199 (1)(a) and (1)(c) (meaning requirements of aggrieved party, locus standi, etc) did not apply to the SC, while exercising powers under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Thus, the court has entertained petitions, complaints and had taken up matters of suo motu, in cases of violation of fundamental rights, the statement said. The constitutional provision and the case law developed on the subject are very clear , therefore, when a fit case is filed or comes to the notice of the competent court , the court cannot abdicate its constitutional obligation; it has to entertain the case in the interest of rule of law and rights of the people.
After registration of any such case, it is fixed before benches of the court for decision and the parties to the case and other persons involved/ interested in the matter can appear before it, he said. At times, the court also appoints amicus curie for assistance or a committee or a commission can also be set up for inquiry and report.
The people across the country are generally appreciative of the exercise of such jurisdiction by the Supreme Court because it grants relief to aggrieved , especially the poor and underprivileged sections of the nation, executive’s wrongs are corrected and billions misappropriated are recovered from the corrupt, the SC Registrar further clarified.