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Overview of Article 198 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, crafted in 1973, serves as the bedrock of the nation’s governance. Among its myriad articles, Article 198 stands as a pivotal piece, intricately detailing the organization and functioning of High Courts within the country. This exploration sheds light on the nuances encapsulated in Article 198, offering a comprehensive understanding of its implications on the judicial landscape.
Article 198 States
198. Seat of the High Court
- Each High Court in existence immediately before the commencing day shall continue to have its principal seat at the place where it had such seat before that day.
- The High Court for Islamabad Capital Territory shall have its principal seat at Islamabad.
- Each High Court and the Judges and divisional courts thereof shall sit at its principal seat and the seats of its Benches and may hold, at any place within its territorial jurisdiction, circuit courts consisting of such of the Judges as may be nominated by the Chief Justice.
- The Lahore High Court shall have a Bench each at Bahawalpur, Multan and Rawalpindi; the High Court of Sind shall have a Bench at Sukkur; the Peshawar High Court shall have a Bench each at Abbottabad, Mingora and Dera Ismail Khan and the High Court of Baluchistan shall have a Bench at Sibi and Turbat.
- Each of the High Courts may have Benches at such other places as the Governor may determine on the advice of the Cabinet and in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
- A Bench referred in clause (3), or established under clause (4), shall consist of such of the Judges of the High Court as may be nominated by the Chief Justice from time to time for a period of not less than one year.
- The Governor in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court shall make rules to provide the following matters, that is to say,-
- assigning the area in relation to which each Bench shall exercise jurisdiction vested in the High Court; and
- for all incidental, supplemental or consequential matters.
Key Points of Article 198 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Continuity of Principal Seats: The article ensures the continuity of principal seats for High Courts existing before a specified commencing day, maintaining their presence at the locations predating this day.
- Special Provision for Islamabad Capital Territory: Recognizing the unique status of Islamabad, Article 198 designates it as the principal seat for the High Court serving the Islamabad Capital Territory.
- Sitting Arrangements: High Courts, along with their divisional courts, are mandated to sit at their principal seats and Benches. Moreover, the provision allows for the establishment of circuit courts within their territorial jurisdiction.
- Bench Locations: Specific High Courts, such as Lahore, Sind, Peshawar, and Baluchistan, are granted Benches at various locations within their jurisdiction, facilitating broader access to justice.
- Authority to Establish Benches: Empowering each High Court, Article 198 grants the authority to establish Benches at additional locations as determined by the Governor, in consultation with the Chief Justice, based on the advice of the Cabinet.
- Composition of Benches: The provision outlines that the Benches will consist of Judges nominated by the Chief Justice for a minimum period of one year.
- Rule-Making Authority: The Governor, in collaboration with the Chief Justice, is entrusted with the responsibility of formulating rules. These rules encompass critical matters, including the assignment of jurisdiction to Benches and addressing incidental, supplemental, or consequential issues.
Crux of Article 198 of the Constitution of Pakistan
In essence, Article 198 serves as the compass guiding the geographical and functional aspects of High Courts in Pakistan. By detailing the principal seats, establishing Benches in various locations, and empowering High Courts to organize circuit courts, the article orchestrates a symphony of justice across the nation. The provision not only ensures the continuation of existing High Courts but also paves the way for strategic expansion, aligning with the evolving needs of the legal landscape.
Conclusion: Article 198 of the Constitution of Pakistan
As we unravel the intricacies of Article 198, it becomes evident that this constitutional provision is not merely a set of rules but a blueprint for an accessible and responsive judiciary. The deliberate distribution of Benches and the authority to establish them at new locations underscore a commitment to decentralize justice, ensuring its reach to every nook and cranny of the nation. In navigating the judicial landscape of Pakistan, Article 198 stands tall as a testament to the constitutional vision of a robust and inclusive legal system.
In conclusion, the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, through Article 198, weaves a tapestry that binds the nation through a structured and responsive judicial system, reflecting the values and aspirations of a dynamic society.