Hearings abandoned at Lahore courts as lawyers’ strike continues

Legal fraternity boycotts proceedings for second day against NJPMC decision

Rana Yasif March 21, 2019

LAHORE: The strike of the legal fraternity has continued for a second day as lawyers protested against the  National Judicial Policy Making Committee’s (NJPMC) decision over the registration of cases under sections 22-A and 22-B of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C).

NJPMC had resolved that applications, under the said sections, might not be entertained by courts unless they were accompanied by a decision of the relevant district superintendent police (SP).

Lawyers boycotted the courts and as a result, several litigants from far flung areas had to return without attending proceedings. However, some cases of a sensitive nature were heard by the judges.

The legal fraternity present at the Lahore High Court bemoaned the decision of the NJPMC, expressing concern that none of the representatives of the bar associations or councils were taken on board when finalising the matter.

The LHC had announced March 26 as the day to hold meetings to devise a further mechanism if NJPMC did not reverse its decision. The high court said representatives of the Pakistan Bar Council, the Sindh and Balochistan bar councils, along with others, would participate in the meeting.

Lahore High Court Bar Association President Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhary expressed his concern that the NJPMC did not bother to call any member of bar associations across the country while deciding the fate of sections 22-A and 22-B of the Cr.P.C.

He said people had already been moving from pillar to post to get FIRs registered in the presence of judges who dealt with the petitions under the mentioned sections. “People are now being thrown into the hands of police officials.”

He said that as matters stand, cops rarely complied with court orders. Chaudhary rhetorically asked how the cops would treat complainants now that the ball and necessary powers were with the police force.

Other lawyers said bar associations had called on by the judiciary in tough times as the latter considered these bodies as “home ground”. They said this step to empower police officials would add to problems instead of decreasing them.

The lawyers also slammed the judiciary for failing to punish judges who sentenced convicts based on falsified statements. Members of the legal fraternity said wrong decisions increased the burden on judicial systems. On the other hand, other advocates suggested that lawyers, with experience of no less than seven years, should be deputed to monitor police proceedings over such matters to avoid any unrest.

The moment the NJPMC’s announced this decision, the legal fraternity came forward to speak on the matter. Representatives of different bar associations called meetings and demanded the reversal of the decision. They made it clear that if the NJPMC failed to withdraw this pronouncement, lawyers would be forced to devise a future strategy. Various bar representatives highlighted the decision would not only unjustifiably increase the powers of the police, but also leave aggrieved persons at the mercy of the force. They concluded that such circumstances would open the doors to further malpractice on the part of the police.

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