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Overview of Article 203F of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 203F, embedded within the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, assumes a pivotal role in the legal framework, dictating the process of appeal from the Federal Shariat Court to the Supreme Court. This provision stands as a beacon, guiding the legal journey in matters where Islamic principles intersect with the judicial system. Let’s embark on a journey to dissect the nuances of Article 203F, unraveling its key aspects and the unique features that shape the course of justice in Pakistan.
Article 203F States
203F. Appeal to Supreme Court
- Any party to any proceedings before the Court under Article 203D aggrieved by the final decision of the Court in such proceedings may, within sixty days of such decision, prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court:
Provided that an appeal on behalf of the Federation or of a Province may be preferred within six months of such decision.
- The provisions of clauses (2) and (3) of Article 203D and clauses (4) to (8) of Article 203E shall apply to and in relation to the Supreme Court as if reference in those provisions to Court were a reference to the Supreme Court.
- An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, final order or sentence of the Federal Shariat Court-
- if the Federal Shariat Court has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding fourteen years; or, on revision, has enhanced a sentence as aforesaid; or
- if the Federal Shariat Court has imposed any punishment on any person for contempt of the Court.
- An appeal to the Supreme Court from a judgment, decision, order or sentence of the Federal Shariat Court in a case to which the preceding clauses do not apply shall lie only if the Supreme Court grants leave to appeal.
- For the purpose of the exercise of the jurisdiction conferred by this Article, there shall be constituted in the Supreme Court a Bench to be called the Shariat Appellate Bench and consisting of,
- three Muslim Judges of the Supreme Court; and
- not more than two Ulema to be appointed by the President to attend sittings of the Bench as ad-hoc members thereof from amongst the Judges of the Federal Shariat Court or from out of a panel of Ulema to he drawn up by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice.
- A person appointed under paragraph (b) of clause (3) shall hold office for such period as the President may determine.
- Reference in clauses (1) and (2) to Supreme Court shall be construed as a reference to the Shariat Appellate Bench.
- While attending sittings of the Shariat Appellate Bench, a person appointed under paragraph (b) of clause (3) shall have the same power and jurisdiction, and be entitled to the same privileges, as a Judge of the Supreme Court and be paid such allowances as the President may determine.
Key Points of Article 203F of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Time-bound Appeals: Parties aggrieved by the final decisions of the Federal Shariat Court have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. The article sets a time limit of sixty days for filing appeals, with an extended period of six months for appeals on behalf of the Federation or a Province.
- Application of Previous Articles: The procedures outlined in Article 203F draw upon the provisions of Article 203D and Article 203E of the Constitution. These provisions, designed for the Federal Shariat Court, are adapted to the Supreme Court context for appeals, ensuring a cohesive and consistent legal framework.
- Specific Grounds for Appeal: Article 203F delineates specific grounds for appeals to the Supreme Court. These include cases where the Federal Shariat Court, on appeal, reverses an order of acquittal and imposes a severe sentence, or when it punishes an individual for contempt. Appeals in cases not falling under these specific grounds require the Supreme Court’s grant of leave to appeal.
- Creation of Shariat Appellate Bench: To address matters related to Islamic law, the Supreme Court constitutes a specialized Bench known as the Shariat Appellate Bench. This Bench comprises three Muslim Judges from the Supreme Court and up to two Ulema, scholars well-versed in Islamic law, appointed by the President. The Ulema can be chosen from the Judges of the Federal Shariat Court or from a panel of Ulema drawn up by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice.
- Appointed Ulemas: The President determines the term of office for Ulema appointed under subsection (b) of clause (3), giving him or her flexibility in making this appointment decision.
- Reference to Supreme Court as Shariat Appellate Bench: Within Article 203F, references to the Supreme Court are taken to refer specifically to its Shariat Appellate Bench and highlight its specialization for hearing appeals from Federal Shariat Courts.
- Powers and Privileges of Appointed Ulema: Ulema attending the Shariat Appellate Bench have equivalent powers, jurisdiction, and privileges as Judges of the Supreme Court. They are also entitled to allowances, the determination of which rests with the President.
Crux of Article 203F of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 203F serves as a linchpin in the legal architecture of Pakistan, orchestrating the appellate process in matters where Islamic law converges with the judicial system. It ensures a systematic and time-bound approach to appeals, providing clarity on specific grounds and granting the Supreme Court the authority to review decisions of the Federal Shariat Court.
The establishment of the Shariat Appellate Bench within the Supreme Court adds a layer of specialization, involving both legal experts and Ulema well-versed in Islamic law. This distinctive approach reflects the nation’s commitment to harmonizing its legal system with the principles of Islam.
Conclusion: Article 203F of the Constitution of Pakistan
In conclusion, Article 203F stands as a testament to Pakistan’s commitment to a legal system that accommodates the nuances of Islamic law within its constitutional framework. By delineating the appeal process and establishing a specialized Bench, the article reflects a harmonious blend of legal expertise and religious scholarship.
As Pakistan continues to evolve, Article 203F remains an essential element in the constitutional fabric, ensuring that the legal journey, especially in matters of Islamic law, is guided by a robust and well-defined process. It is a beacon that illuminates the path toward a legal system that upholds justice while respecting the religious and cultural identity of the nation.