PM Shehbaz dismisses President Alvi as 'PTI worker' after he returns SC bill

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks in Islamabad on April 7, 2022 (right) and President Dr Arif Alvi addressing an event in Karachi, on March 26, 2022. — AFP/APP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks in Islamabad on April 7, 2022 (right) and President Dr Arif Alvi addressing an event in Karachi, on March 26, 2022. — AFP/APP

  • PM Shehbaz says President Alvi's move is "most unfortunate".
  • He says Alvi "beholden to Imran Niazi more than Constitution".
  • President returned bill seeking to curtail chief justice's powers.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Saturday castigated President Arif Alvi for returning Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, unsigned and called him a worker of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The bill is aimed at curtailing the powers of the chief justice — including the suo motu and the formation of benches. The PTI has strongly condemned the move to pass the legislation and said it is an "attack on the judiciary".

"President Alvi returning the Supreme Court Bill duly passed by Parliament is most unfortunate," the prime minister said in a hard-hitting tweet hours after the president returned the bill to the legislature.

The president has, since the formation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement's government in April last year, returned bills and also refused to administer the oath to several members of the federal cabinet, including PM Shehbaz.

Alvi has sought the advice of PTI Chairman Imran Khan — who was ousted as the prime minister in April last year — on several crucial matters, including the appointment of the chief of army staff.

In the tweet, the prime minister said the president has belittled his office through his actions as he follows the PTI chief's orders rather than fulfilling his constitutional duties.

"Through his conduct, he has belittled the august Office by acting as a worker of the PTI, one who is beholden to Imran Niazi more than the Constitution & demands of his Office," he added.

The bill was approved by both houses of the parliament last month and sent to the president for assent amid a deepening political and constitutional crisis in the country over elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

After Alvi's refusal to assent to the legislation, the government is likely to get through this bill from a joint session of the parliament.

The president returned the bill for reconsideration to the parliament as per the provisions of the Article 75 of the Constitution, stating that the bill prima-facie travels beyond the competence of the parliament and can be assailed as colourable legislation.

In his letter to PM Shehbaz Sharif, President Alvi said that he thought it fit and proper to return the bill, in accordance with the Constitution, with the request for reconsideration in order to meet the scrutiny about its validity (if assailed in the Court of Law).

President Alvi said that SC Rules 1980 had been "made and in force duly validated and adopted by the Constitution itself" under enabling provisions such as Article 191 of the Constitution which empowers the top court to make rules regulating the practice and procedure of the court.

"These time-tested rules are being followed ever since the year 1980 —any tinkering with the same may tantamount to interference with the internal working of the Court, its autonomy and independence," the letter stated.