The legal fraternity across the country observed a black day on Friday to observe the fifth anniversary of former military strongman Pervez Musharraf’s full-frontal assault on judiciary when he sacked Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry along with 60 top judges on March 9, 2007.
The high court and district bars of Islamabad and Rawalpindi hoisted black flags on the call of the Punjab Bar Council. They also held meetings to denounce the act publicly. In Rawalpindi, lawyers staged a protest outside court premises and held a rally near Katchery Chowk.
The lawyers’ bodies also held separate meetings at their respective bars and passed resolutions to condemn the much-derided act of the former military dictator.
President Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench, Sheikh Ashan expressed solidarity with the judiciary and praised the role of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who had refused to obey illegal orders.
“Today the judiciary is independent and the credit goes to lawyers, civil society, and the media. They have all played a constructive role for its restoration,” he added.
A convention was held at the bar room of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to mark a black day in the city.
A number of lawyers, including PHC Bar Association President Khwaja Muhammad Khan Garha, were present. Chief Justice of PHC Justice Dost Muhammad Khan was the chief guest.
Justice Khan paid tributes to lawyers for their nationwide struggle and untiring efforts for the restoration of judiciary.
Khan said that despite limited resources, lawyers stood firm and boycotted courts for two years.
A joint general body meeting of the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBAP), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Sindh Bar Council (SBC), which was held here on Friday to mourn the 2007 incident, turned into a forum to criticise the shortage of judges in the Sindh High Court.
Delivering scathing criticism, PBC Vice Chairman Akhtar Hussain, who is an old PPP stalwart, said the present government is not committed to the country or democracy.
“Legal organisations are raising the issue again and again, but this should not be considered a negative act by the judiciary. Instead, criticism is aimed at compelling decision makers to solve issues on top priority,” Hussain said.
The bar has the right to express concern when the provincial high court is functioning at one-third of its sanctioned strength. Lawyers do not have any objection about the judicial commission, but the present procedure of appointment of judges needs to be amended, he added.
SCBAP President Yasin Khan Azad said that instead of appointing judges on ad-hoc basis, the appointment should be on a permanent basis so they can provide justice without fear.
Court activity remained suspended in all the judicial districts in Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas division and at the High Court of Sindh Hyderabad Circuit Bench.
Addressing lawyers at the Aiwan-e-Adl, Lahore Bar Association President Choudhary Zolifqar Ali said some people distributed sweets when a dictator took over the country, but the lawyers’ movement proved that patriots are still alive. (Obaid Abbasi, Umer Farooq, Zeeshan Mujahid and Z Ali contributed to this report)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2012.