SC Bench Hearing Elections Impasse Delisted Due To CJP's 'Mild Illness'

SC Bench Hearing Elections Impasse Delisted Due To CJP's 'Mild Illness'
The roster for Bench 1 of the Supreme Court (SC) was changed due to the "indisposition" of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial before the Wednesday deadline set by the Supreme Court for political parties to agree on a new date for elections in Punjab.

All cases before the CJP's bench were delisted along with it. The SC Registrar delisted the cases but did not state any reason in a notification.

"It is to inform you that the Court Roster regarding Bench-I for Wednesday, April 26, 2023, has been revised due to the indisposition of the Hon'ble Chief Justice of Pakistan."

The top court had earlier urged all political parties to quickly come to an agreement on a date for holding concurrent general elections for the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies; otherwise, the court warned, its order regarding the Punjab Assembly elections on May 14 would take effect.

A new bench comprising Justices Ijaz ul Ahsan and Aminuddin Khan was formulated for today's SC hearings. The list of cases that the new bench would hear was made public by the apex court's Registrar's Office.

Three benches—Bench 2, with Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Aminuddin Khan; Bench 3, with Justices Mansoor Ali Shah, Ayesha Malik, and Shahid Waheed; and Bench 4, with Justices Muneeb Akhtar and Mazahir Ali Naqvi—would preside over today's sessions.

After the Bench 1 roster was revised, the current makeup indicates that one group of judges controls the majority in three benches.

Previously, Justices Mandokhail and Minallah were on the bench that was presided over by CJP Bandial.

Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Sardar Tariq Masood, two senior judges, were also unavailable for the bench on Wednesday.

There is also discussion about whether the Supreme Court Practise and Procedure Act of 2023, which limits the Chief Justice of Pakistan's authority to appoint benches and conduct suo motu action, will take effect after the three senior judges committee is notified.

The Act, however, had already been halted by an eight-member larger bench of the Supreme Court, presided over by CJP Bandial.