ISLAMABAD - The government yesterday introduced the 24th constitutional amendment in the National Assembly proposing right of appeal to an aggrieved party against a suo moto order of the Supreme Court.

‘The Constitution (Twenty-fourth Amendment) Bill, 2016’ proposes two new clauses to Article 184 (Original jurisdiction of Supreme Court) of the Constitution.

According to the bill, clauses 184 (4) and 184 (5) should be added to give the constitutional right to appeal to an aggrieved party against a judgment of the apex court in a suo moto case, in line with the principle of fundamental rights of the citizens.

“An appeal preferred under clause (4) shall be heard by a bench larger than the bench which had passed the order,” says the bill, moved by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says the scope of review is limited to correction of error. The bill was forwarded to the relevant committees for further deliberations.

PML-N government also tabled for house approval an ordinance empowering the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to ensure adequate measures against fraud, money-laundering and terror-financing.

The legislation would also authorise the SECP to ask foreign companies in Pakistan and locals and beneficiaries that have invested abroad to make their investments public in the wake of the Panama Papers.

Pakistan Peoples Party expressed strong reservations on the ‘Companies Ordinance 2016’, which was promulgated last week.

But Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that it has been finalised after extensive consultations with all stakeholders to introduce best international corporate practices in Pakistan.

He pointed out there was a dire need to revamp the 32 years old Companies Ordinance, 1984, to provide an improved competitive legal framework for the corporate sector in Pakistan.

As for the 24th amendment bill, there is no provision for appeal against an order of the Supreme Court in exercise of its original jurisdiction under clause (3) of article 184 of the constitution, according to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.

“Since such an order invokes a question of public importance with reference to enforcement of fundamental rights conferred by chapter1 of Part-II, an aggrieved party should have the right of appeal, which shall also be in conformity with the fundamental right to fair trail and due process conferred by article10A of the constitution,” it says.

The proposed amendment provides for appeal within 30 days of an order of Supreme Court under clause (3) of article 184, to be heard by a bench larger than the bench which had passed the order under appeal, the statement further states.

According to insertion of ‘new section 3A and 4A ordinance XII of 1972’, ‘an appeal shall lie to a larger bench of Supreme Court against any order of judgment made by a bench of that court in suo moto proceedings initiated under original jurisdiction’.

Earlier, the incumbent government in September deferred an amendment bill which also proposed giving right of appeal against the SC decisions in suo moto cases.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed also introduced in the assembly the Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill, 2016 and the Costs of Litigation Bill, 2016.

PPP’s Nafeesa Shah expressed serious concerns over the ordinance empowering SECP and raised objection for promulgating an ordinance after the 18th amendment.

“This 1,200 pages ordinance is a discouragement for lawmakers sitting here for legislation... Is there a presidential system in the country?” she asked. She said that the government should avoid bringing the ordinance in the house.

Another PPP’s senior MNA Yousaf Talpur suggested referring the ordinance to the parliamentary committee for discussion.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar however defended the ordinance bill and expressed the hope for its enactment at the earliest to help address long-standing demand of the business community. He observed that the bill provides major emphasis on ease of doing business.

The minister elaborated that the bill provides maximum facilitation to the corporate sector and envisages the use of technology at all levels including the filing of documents to SECP electronically, the supply of documents, information, notices to the members electronically, attending meetings through video link and voting through e-ballot.

He said that the bill aimed to provide protection of interests of minority shareholders and creditors as well as the encouraged inclusion of independent and non-executive directors in the company’s boards.

The bill also required real estate companies to provide enhanced protection to investors. The ordinance contains provisions for simplifying the procedure for incorporation of companies, enabling maximum use of technology, conversion of physical shares into book-entry form in unlisted companies, and encouraging paperless environment at all levels.