ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday constituted a three-member committee of senior lawyers, headed by Justice (retired) Mian Allah Nawaz, the former chief justice of the Lahore High Court, to resolve the dispute between the bar and the bench of the subordinate courts.
The committee was formed on the recommendations of lawyers as a three-member bench of the apex court heard the suo motu case of the clash between lawyers and the police in Lahore on Friday. The bench comprised Justice Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday.
The Lahore Bar Association (LBA), however, rejected the committee, terming it a tactic to prolong the issue.
Two other members of the committee are vice president Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Muhammad Kazim Khan and the PBC’s executive member Ali Ahmed Kurd. The committee has been directed to submit its report to the Supreme Court on October 8. Observing that litigants are suffering, the court directed the committee to complete its work quickly.
Justice Chaudhry also advised the civil judges of the lower courts, who had tendered their resignations to protests the lawyers’ actions, to immediately resume their work.
In addition, the court directed the Punjab administration to refrain from using violence against lawyers and to assist the judiciary.
While appreciating the media in creating awareness, the court also warned it against exaggerating incidents.
During the course of the proceedings, suggestions to solve the matter amicably were sought from senior lawyers present in the court, including Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Akram Sheikh, Qazi Anwar, Anwar Kamal, and Manzoor Ahmed.
Pirzada said that dialogue between the bench and the bar should not be interrupted.
When Justice Chaudhry questioned IG Punjab Police Tariq Saleem Dogar about the violence directed against the lawyers on Friday, Dogar only responded by saying, “sorry, sir”.
Video footage recorded by different television channels, showing policemen torturing lawyers, was shown in the court.
The chief justice observed that it was deplorable that the police resorted to highhandedness in the bar rooms and said that if the sanctity of bar room had not been breached, the situation would not have deteriorated.
Justice Ramday urged lawyers to resolve the matter, adding “there should be no ego problem in this matter.”
Meanwhile, in Lahore, the LBA president Sajid Bashir, in a speech to the general house of the bar, demanded the registration of FIRs and immediate arrests of police officials responsible for using violence against lawyers.
“The Chief Justice of Pakistan should not test our patience, otherwise the LBA rally could also reach Islamabad,” he said.
Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Ali Ahmed Kurd, while stopping lawyers from raising slogans against the Lahore High Court chief justice, said that “the LBA played the role of a torch-bearer for the restoration of the judiciary. The lawyers of this country are with the LBA in this test.”
The lawyers at the lower courts observed a complete boycott of the courts proceedings, however a partial strike was witnessed at the Lahore High Court.
Though lawyers in Sindh did not go on strike on Monday, they said that if action is not taken against police officials who beat lawyers in Lahore, they will call a strike on Friday.
More than 300 judges of subordinate judiciary in Lahore tendered resignations in protest against possible transfer of Lahore district and sessions judge. The Lahore High Court, though, did not accept their resignations and advised them to carry on their work.
However, the judges were determined to continue their strike till assured that the sessions judge will not transfer. (With additional reporting from Rana Tanveer and Zeeshan Mujahid)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2010.
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