Uncertainty surrounds cases heard under Article 184.

ISLAMABAD -- Uncertainty looms over the fate of public interest cases decided under Article 184(3) of the Constitution following the suspension of the effects of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, as apprehensions abound that high-profile cases, previously considered settled, may face challenges on their validity.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who is set to become the next chief justice of Pakistan, and now Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, have expressed concerns that if the law's constitutionality is upheld, all proceedings under Article 184-3 would be legally void.Since the enactment of this law, Justice Isa is not sitting on any bench.

He is consistently raising questions on the legality of the benches which have been constituted since April.

Legal experts warn that if the Supreme Court upholds the Act, high-profile cases decided since April 13 could face challenges on their validity.However, one of the lawyers believed that the court would need to protect these cases as "past and closed" and provide a provision for appeals against them.

He said that the court would also have to afford appeals against those cases decided under Article 184-3 of the Constitution during this period.Justice Shah, while hearing PTI chief Imran Khan's petition against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law amendments, noted that Section 3 of the Act provided that the bench for hearing pleas under Article 184-3 was to be constituted by a committee comprising the chief justice of Pakistan and two next most senior judges of the SC.

He further pointed out in his separate note attached to the bench's written order that Section 4 of the Act mandated that any case involving the interpretation of a constitutional provision was to be heard by a bench comprising at least five judges."

The Act being a procedural law prima facie applies retrospectively to the pending cases under Article 184-3 of the Constitution, including the present one,' Justice Shah's note read.

'Although the operation of the Act has been suspended by an eight-member bench of this court, the Act would take effect from the date of its enforcement, not from the date of the decision of the court, if ultimately the court upholds the constitutional validity of the Act,' it added.

'In case the Act is held to be valid, any decision given in the present case [NAB amendments] by this bench, which is not constituted as per the procedure prescribed and of the strength of judges required under the...

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