District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Rasheed Qamar on Wednesday sought a three-day leave for the judges in the district from the Lahore High Court registrar after a number of lawyers vandalised the court and later the office of the district coordination officer (DCO).
In the letter sent to the registrar, the judge said that the lives of judges were at stake. He said the atmosphere on court premises had become “unsafe”.
He wrote: “On Wednesday at 12:15pm, when I was at my chamber, more than 200 lawyers entered the court premises armed with clubs. They were shouting slogans about not letting the judges perform their duties. They then broke several glass doors and furniture and also misbehaved with the court officials.”
The judge said that the lawyers then broke a type writer and locked 25 courtrooms. “They said they would return,” the judge further wrote.
He said: “A lawyer put kerosene oil on his body and attempted self-immolation, but he was stopped by some lawyers.” He said they then left for the DCO’s office.
The DCO said told The Express Tribune that the lawyers shouldn’t have taken the law in their hands. He said cases would be registered against those who vandalised his office and misbehaved with him.
Earlier, protesting lawyers vandalised the offices of the district and sessions judge and DCO during their protest to demand an LHC bench at Faisalabad. Some of them assaulted the DCO and pushed him out of his office.
Wednesday marked the 10th day of their protest. The protesters started off by marching towards the DCO’s office, where they were later joined in by more lawyers. They reiterated their demand that an LHC bench be immediately set up at Faisalabad.
They staged a sit-in in front of the DCO’s office. When some policemen, deployed outside the DCO’s office, tried to push them, they forcibly entered the office and vandalised it. When DCO Chaudhry Amin tried to stop them, they grappled with him and pushed him out of the office. They also threatened to beat the staff.
The protesters later moved to District Council Chowk, where they staged another sit-in.
Earlier, a general body meeting of the District Bar Association (DBA) was held with its president Mian Javaid Iqbal in chair.
Iqbal said that an LHC divisional bench was the right of the people of Faisalabad. He said they (people) might not understand it, but the lawyers did.
“We have also made several appeals to the government as well as requested the local parliamentarians to help set up an LHC bench here. No one has taken our requests seriously.”
Iqbal said that the lawyers would continue their protest. He said the Faisalabad DBA as well as other bars in the division would boycott the Lahore High Court Bar Association elections on February 23 if their demands were not met.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2013.