Pakistan’s Senate has passed the Supreme Court Bill, aimed at reducing the powers of the chief justice, including revoking the power to take unilateral action. The bill also amends the controversial Article 184(3) of the Pakistani constitution, under which the chief justice is permitted to take suo motu action on situations deemed to conflict with the public interest. Pakistan’s Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar said excessive action under this article had damaged Pakistan’s finances, and argued that the increasing use of power by individuals, rather than institutions, had undermined the court’s function in recent years. The move was opposed by senior members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, who argued that the amendment had been introduced to allow relief for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his disqualification case. Sharif was disqualified last year on charges of perjury and corruption. Political analysts have also criticised the move as a means of reducing potential challenges to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who succeeded Sharif in 2017.

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