Staffers boycotted the subordinate courts on Tuesday after a colleague was beaten up by a group of lawyers at Aiwan-i-Adl in a dispute over the appointment of a local commission.
A court staffer said on the condition of anonymity that Mehmood Butt, the reader for Civil Judge Mubashar Nadeem Khan, was approached by Advocate Farhan Gillani in the courtroom.
Gillani had been expecting to be appointed by the court as a local commission, which is when the judge assigns a lawyer the task of ascertaining the facts of a case. But Butt told him that another lawyer had been handed over the case file instead.
Gillani flared up at the reader, then walked out threatening him. He returned shortly after with 10 other lawyers, said the witness. They dragged Butt out of the ahalmad’s room and beat him up. The judge heard the hue and cry and came out of his retiring room to intervene.
Advocate Gillani told The Tribune that it had been his turn to be appointed as a local commission. He said that Butt had chosen someone else because he had refused to bribe the reader.
Butt said that the judge had directed him to hand over the file to a female lawyer, but Advocate Gillani was blaming him.
Civil Judge Mubashar Nadeem Khan said that he had not appointed any local commission and did not know about the fight. He said that the incident had occurred during a break and outside his courtroom.
Staffers at the Aiwan-i-Adl heard of the incident and assembled outside the courtroom of a senior civil judge, from where they marched towards the sessions court. The staff of the sessions court also joined the protest and gathered outside the courtroom of District and Sessions Judge Mujahid Mustaqeem Ahmed, chanting slogans denouncing lawyers as thugs. Staffers at the Cantonment courts, district courts and Model Town courts also boycotted their jobs in protest.
Lahore Bar Association Vice Presidents Rana Javed Bashir and Faiz Ahmed Khokhar later went to the chambers of Khawaja Zafar Iqbal, who is serving as district and sessions judge while Mustaqeem Ahmed is on leave, to discuss the matter with the staffers.
A source privy to the meeting said that the lawyers pressed Butt to withdraw an application he had submitted to the police seeking a criminal case against the lawyers who attacked him. They also expressed concern at the slogans chanted by the staffers.
LBA President Rana Javed Bashir later claimed that the matter had been resolved, but Butt said that the issue would be brought before District and Sessions Judge Ahmed on Wednesday.
This was the fourteenth fight or thrashing in the subordinate courts since the start of April, with most of the incidents involving lawyers.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.