The Supreme Court; Not A Trial Court

The Supreme Court; Not A Trial Court

The Constitution of Pakistan grants three kinds of jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, namely,

  1. original jurisdiction under Article 184,
  2. appellate jurisdiction under Article 185 and
  3. advisory jurisdiction under Article 186,

beyond which Supreme Court cannot exercise any judicial power as a trial court does.

In Panama case, the court used its power under Article 184(3), which clearly lays down that,

…The supreme court shall, if it considers that a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any fundamental rights conferred by chapter 1 of part 2 is involved, have the power to make an order of the nature mentioned in the said article.

In simple terms, it is said to be the power of judicial review, which comes into enforcement when any executive authority uses its power ultra vires to the Constitution or any other law.

The question is whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to try a person for his or her conduct where other authorities also have powers to try. The honorable court in its judgment stated that all the remedies available to the public had been exhausted and the concerned authorities had failed to provide any remedy or relief to the public. As a result, it was mandatory for the honorable court to interfere, but not as a trial court, which resulted in making a JIT, so that the accused was not debarred from his fundamental right to fair trial to a competent court as guaranteed by the Constitution.

It must be noted that under Article 184, the honorable Supreme Court can only give declaratory judgments which may be against any abuse of power or a question of public importance. As the court of last resort, only an appeal, advice and petition related to the enforcement of fundamental rights or questions of public importance may be brought to it for settling.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any organization with which he might be associated.

Baqi Baloch

Author: Baqi Baloch

The author is a resident of Turbat, Balochistan, and currently studying law at School of Law, University of Karachi. He can be reached at [email protected].