Supreme Court bar elections: Let the best man win

Two candidates with powerful backers are jostling for the top slot.

Rana Tanveer August 29, 2011

LAHORE: Two candidates have emerged for the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for elections which are scheduled to be held before October 31.

Both, Justice (retd) Rasheed A Rizvi and Yasin Azad, have started countywide visits to convince voters and are holding meetings with notable lawyers.

SCBA elections are significant, this time around, as there is a perceived tussle once again between the Supreme Court (SC) and the government.

Pro-PPP lawyers are mostly rallying around Azad while the pro-SC Professional Group of Lawyers (PGL), headed by Advocate Hamid Khan, is backing Rizvi.

The PGL, who have do not have a majority in the Pakistan Bar Council or any of the four provincial bar councils, is trying its best to bag the presidential slot of the apex bar association of the county.

Both groups have pitted strong candidates against each other. Both are sitting members of the Pakistan Bar Council and have been presidents of the Sindh High Court Bar Association. Both candidates were active during the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of judiciary however Azad has tilted towards his party’s policy after the general elections.

Rizvi is widely respected because of his refusal to take oath under the first PCO of General (retd) Musharraf in 2000 when he was a judge of the Sindh High Court.

Azad’s campaign has the support of SCBA sitting president Asma Jahangir while Rizvi’s campaign is under the supervision of Hamid Khan.

Currently, Rizvi and his supporters seem very active in Lahore. One of his supporters, Advocate Ahmed Awais, recently hosted a dinner at a five star hotel for voters.

Rizvi has visited the city more than four times in the last one month and made a point of meeting voters at their houses and offices.

Hamid Khan has claimed support of former SCBA presidents Munir A Malik and Aitzaz Ahsan while supporters of Azad include lawyers’ leaders Ali Ahmed Kurd and Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood. Malik had supported Jahangir in her election bid.

The total number of SCBA voters is 2,200. Out of these, 1,518 are from the Punjab, 326 are from Sindh, 179 from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and 107 from Balochistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th,  2011.