Pakistan's Chief Justice introduces historic changes
Historic live streaming of Supreme Court hearings in Pakistan
New Chief Justice takes office
Pakistan witnessed a historic moment as Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa assumed office, marking the first-ever live streaming of Supreme Court hearings in the country's history. Justice Isa, aged 63, was sworn in as the 29th Chief Justice of Pakistan, succeeding Justice Umar Ata Bandial, whose retirement led to this transition. Justice Isa's tenure is expected to span 13 months, concluding on October 25, 2024.
Challenges to recent legal changes
In a significant departure from previous practices, Chief Justice Isa initiated live streaming with a series of cases challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act of 2023. This law, passed in April by the former coalition government led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), aimed to modify the authority of the Chief Justice regarding suo motu matters and the formation of judges' panels.
Under this law, a committee of three senior judges, including the Chief Justice, would decide on taking up suo motu cases, which was previously the sole prerogative of the Chief Justice. Additionally, it expanded the Supreme Court's review jurisdiction, allowing appeals to be filed within 30 days of judgments in suo motu cases. Notably, if upheld, this law could enable former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to appeal his disqualification by the Supreme Court in 2017.
On his first day as Chief Justice, Justice Isa made another symbolic departure from tradition by declining to receive a guard of honor upon arriving at the Supreme Court. These changes reflect a shift in how the judiciary operates in Pakistan under his leadership.