President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday returned the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 unsigned after observing that the matter was sub judice before the apex court. The president said that it was not appropriate to proceed further on the bill as the Supreme Court was seized of the instant matter, President Secretariat Press Wing said in a press release. The legislation in question is aimed at depriving the office of the CJP of powers to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity and giving the right to appeal in all suo motu cases with retrospective effect. It was approved by the federal cabinet on March 28 and then passed by both houses of parliament – the National Assembly and Senate – only for the president to refuse to sign it into law with the observation that it travelled “beyond the competence of parliament”. However, a joint session of parliament passed it again on April 10 with certain amendments amid a noisy protest by PTI lawmakers. It was then again referred to the president for his assent and as per the Constitution, in case of the bill not being signed by him within 10 days, his assent would have been deemed granted. But three days after the passing of the bill by the joint parliament session, an eight-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), including CJP Umar Ata Bandial, issued an order that bars the government from implementing the bill after it becomes a law. “The moment that the bill receives the assent of the president or it is deemed that such assent has been given, then from that very moment onwards and till further orders, the act that comes into being shall not have, take or be given any effect nor be acted upon in any manner,” read the SC’s interim order. The bill states that a three-member bench, comprising the CJP and the two senior-most judges of the apex court, will decide whether or not to take up a matter suo motu. Previously, this was solely the prerogative of the CJP. The proposed law also states that every cause, matter, or appeal before the apex court would be heard and disposed of by a bench, constituted by a committee made up of the chief justice and the two senior-most judges. The legislation also includes the right to file an appeal within 30 days of the judgement in a suo motu case and that any case involving constitutional interpretation will not have a bench of fewer than five judges. The bill seeks to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other parliamentarians disqualified by the Supreme Court under suo motu powers (such as Jahangir Tareen) to appeal their disqualification within 30 days of the law’s enactment.