Work at the Sessions Court was held up by around 90 minutes on Monday after a group of lawyers, protesting at a judge’s refusal to decide a bail application, stopped staffers from opening a courtroom.
Advocate Sharafat Ali has accused a doctor of malpractice resulting in the death of his newborn. Additional District and Sessions Judge Arshad Ali had been hearing the doctor’s pre-arrest bail application for a month and, at the last hearing, after the lawyers from both sides had finished their arguments, had said he would announce his decision on Monday, said the advocate.
But the judge referred the bail petition back to District and Sessions Judge Nazir Ahmed Ganjana on Monday, stating that he did not wish to decide the case for personal reasons.
Ali and some of his colleagues accosted a staffer as he was about to unlock and open the courtroom of ADSJ Ali at around 8:30am. The staffer said he had been threatened. He said he approached the Sessions Court superintendent, who conveyed the matter to Duty Judge Ittefaq Abbasi, who was in charge as District and Session Judge Ganjana is on leave.
All the ADSJs at the courts stopped their work and met at the duty judge’s chambers. Some 25 lawyers including Advocate Ali also attended. The courts were reopened at around 10:30am.
The duty judge, asked how the matter had been resolved and whether any action would be taken against the lawyers, refused to comment. The bail petition was fixed for December 4 (today) before the district and sessions judge.
Advocate Ali said that the purpose of his protest was to point out the perversity of a judge hearing a bail petition for a month, hearing arguments from both sides, and then referring it to another judge without a decision. He alleged that Lahore Bar Association officials had put pressure on the judge to grant the doctor bail because her lawyer was connected to the LBA president. He said he was satisfied that his protest had been registered.
LBA General Secretary Asad Abbas Zaidi denied that the bar or its officials had put pressure on the judge. He said that the FIR against the doctor was registered under Sections 319 (qatl-i-khata) and 419 (cheating by impersonation) of the Penal Code, which were bailable offences. “When the offences are bailable, why would we need to ask the judge to confirm bail? The allegations are baseless,” he said.
According to the FIR, Advocate Ali’s pregnant wife visited Dr Farzan Idrees, who runs Safia Clinic in Ghoray Shah, for a routine checkup and the doctor told her she needed an immediate delivery operation. The operation was conducted and the child delivered, but it was in poor health and later died at Mayo Hospital. The complainant alleged that the early delivery operation had not been needed and the baby had died due to the doctor’s negligence.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2012.