Supreme Court strikes down Review of Judgments Act 2023

On Friday, the Supreme Court issued its verdict regarding a recently introduced law that pertained to the review of court judgments and orders, declaring the law as ‘unconstitutional’.

The decision was made by a three-member bench of the highest court, with Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial presiding, alongside Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar. The bench had previously reserved its decision on June 19.

The law in question, known as the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023, aimed to expand the scope of review jurisdiction in cases decided under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. This legislation was introduced by the coalition government and successfully passed by the National Assembly on April 14.

The bill received the seal of approval from the Senate—the upper house of parliament—on May 5 before it was sent to President Arif Alvi who signed the act into law.


The verdict

“At first glance, it may (if seen in isolation and read out of context) appear that parliament may be competent to legislate and pass the 2023 Act since the said entry read with Article 188 appears to subject the review jurisdiction of this court to an Act of Parliament. However, a closer look at the extent, scope and constitutional implications of the 2023 Act paints a totally different picture,” read the judgment.

“What the legislature has failed to realise is that the authority to legislate with respect to the review jurisdiction of Article 188 is circumscribed by other Articles of the Constitution and the scheme of the Constitution ensuring the independence of the judiciary. Further, the scope to frame rules under Article 191 to regulate its practice and procedure vests in the SC,” it stated.