The dispute between the executive and lower judiciary has yet to settle as both sides are sticking to their guns and have dragged in the police, revenue officials, lawyers and court staff across Hazara division.
On April 1, a criminal case was registered against a civil judge in Balakot under sections 324, 353, 447, 147 and 148 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Assistant Commissioner (AC) Muhammad Ali Asghar who accused the former of assaulting him. The complainant accused the judge of encroaching on land belonging to the municipal committee by erecting sheds for a parking lot. Asghar alleged when he and his staff tried to prevent the judge from undertaking the work, they were attacked by court staff.
Meanwhile, Mushtaq, a bailiff in the Balakot court and one of the nominated accused, filed a complaint with Additional Sessions Judge Ahmed Sultan Khan and had a case registered against the AC under Section 22 A of the Criminal Procedure Code. Following the incident, lawyers have been going on a partial strike in Hazara division while court staff has also joined them.
On the other hand, revenue officials and police officials have put their weight behind the executive and the former are not going to court in protest, whereas senior police officials in the district have asked constables and head constables deployed at the courts to report back to the police lines.
However, when the matter was brought to the notice of judge Sultan, he ordered the naib courts and policemen providing security to judges to continue with their duties, which led the Mansehra district police officer to freeze the salaries of policemen deployed at Balakot courts.
On Saturday, the Mansehra district bar association had a meeting chaired by association president Munir Lughmani and discussed the ongoing tension between the judiciary and the executive. Participants of the meeting adopted a resolution demanding the Peshawar High Court chief justice to take suo motu notice of the incident and take the dispute to its logical conclusion. They also demanded the release of salaries of all police personnel who continued working at the courts on the orders of judge Sultan.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2014.
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