Police move court in brawl over chambers

Published: June 16, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad police moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench on Tuesday against the orders of the District Court in a bid to delay the registration of cases against their officials.

Police challenged the district court’s decision after consulting its legal experts, said one official on Tuesday. In its plea to LHC, police department said the evidence available with the police and witnesses account clearly suggested that the lawyers had gone against the law.

Hundreds of lawyers from the District Courts Islamabad had clashed with Islamabad police over a land dispute on Saturday. They had blocked Johar Road in front of the Margalla Police Station in F-8 Markaz for hours before ransacking the office of the SP City Sajid Kayani and badly beating up his bodyguard, Muhammad Anwar, according to pictorial evidence published in national dailies.

The lawyers then filed two separate petitions in the District Court on Saturday, which were taken up on Monday. “In one of the petitions, we maintained that the Islamabad administration had unlawfully destroyed the chambers of the lawyers. The second petition was related to the clash with the police,” said the President Islamabad Bar Association Wajid Gillani on Tuesday.

The District Court concluded that the lawyers’ claims were legitimate and directed Islamabad Police to register cases against five people including two civilians and three police officials including SP Saddar and Liaqut Khan for allegedly beating up lawyers. The court had also directed the authorities to reconstruct the demolished buildings. The police challenged this decision with LHC Rawalpindi Bench.

LHC Rawalpindi Bench will now take up the case on Wednesday.

“We were disappointed at the verdict of the so-called ‘independent’ judiciary,” said a senior police official while talking to The Express Tribune. He said the police, despite being on the right side and suffering humiliation, were agreed upon a settlement outside the court. “[But the lawyers] took it to the court as a pre-emptive measure because they knew they were on the wrong side,” he added.

An official of the Islamabad Administration, on condition of anonymity, denied the claims made by lawyers that the chambers’ site had been allotted to them by the Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad.

“The buildings demolished were erected on illegally occupied land,” he said.

He also denied the lawyers’ claims that they had computers and printers inside their chambers when they were razed to the ground. “Only two or three chambers were fully constructed and there was nothing expensive inside them,” he added.

Meanwhile, independent parties are trying to reconcile the two groups.  “Some mediators are trying to convince both the parties to reach a settlement outside of court,” said another police official.

“Initially the lawyers had agreed to withdraw their petitions in return for the withdrawal of FIRs against them but later they silently changed their stance,” he added.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 16th, 2010.

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