Punjab Bar Council likely to elect Khatm-e-Nabuwwat lawyer

Bashir nominated by the group that backed Asma in SCBA election.

Rana Tanveer November 01, 2010
Punjab Bar Council likely to elect Khatm-e-Nabuwwat lawyer

LAHORE: Rai Bashir, the chairman of the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum (KNLF), has been proposed as the Punjab Bar Council (PBC)’s nominee for the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP).

Bashir was put forward as a candidate on Saturday by the Friends Alliance, a group of PPP members of the PBC. He claims to have the support of 46 of 75 elected members of the council. A vote on his nomination will take place on November 4.

Bashir’s nomination comes as a surprise, especially since it came from the pro-PPP lawyers. Before the recent Supreme Court Bar Association elections, the KNLF published an eight-page pamphlet that branded candidate Asma Jahangir a Qadiani, a derogatory name for Ahmedis, and also accused her of having an anti-Pakistan, pro-US and pro-India agenda. Jahangir was supported by the pro-PPP lawyers group in the SCBA polls.

Ahmed Awais, who lost to Jahangir in the SCBA polls, criticised Bashir’s nomination, saying it was against the spirit of the JCP provisions. “A political candidate should not be appointed to the commission that will make appointments of judges,” he said. “The council should have nominated a non-controversial and balanced candidate.”

But he also criticised the selection process, suggesting that it was bound to produce such nominations.

“The elected members of the bar councils are those who have managed to get into the bar councils through lawyers’ politics and groupings. How can a person who lobbied for the support of a particular group of lawyers then ignore or reject a candidate of the same group?”

Bashir said that he would be the Friends Alliance candidate, not the candidate of a political party. He said he did not campaign for Jahangir or any other candidate in the SCBA election. He did not comment on his affiliation with the KNLF.

But Advocate Mahmoodul Hasan Bhatti, president of the KNLF, said Bashir had been an active chairman and his nomination would be an honour for the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum. He said Bashir had helped bring a doctor in Nankana Sahib accused of blasphemy “to justice” one year ago. “He got the bail of the accused cancelled from a sessions judge and then successfully opposed it at the Lahore High Court,” Bhatti said.

Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, a PbBC member aligned with the Professionals Group opposed to the Friends Alliance, said his group had not nominated a candidate yet, but would not let Bashir win the vote uncontested.

Bashir was elected vice president of the Lahore Bar Association in 1994. He served as secretary in 1984 and president in 1989 of the Model Town Lawyers Forum. He lost in PbBC elections in 1999.


Bashir is not the only potentially controversial nominee to the Judicial Commission. The Pakistan Bar Council’s election of Dr Khalid Ranjha and the chief justice of Pakistan’s selection of Justice (retired) Ali Hussain Qizalbash for the commission have already been criticised by various quarters.

The Professionals Group – the lawyers led by Hamid Khan that backed Ahmed Awais in the SCBA elections – has called Dr Ranjha’s nomination politically motivated and against the spirit of the commission. They noted that Ranjha’s nomination as a High Court judge in the late 1990s had not been confirmed as he was not considered eligible.

Justice (retired) Tariq and others lawyers opposed to the Professionals Group – which is also considered pro-chief justice – have expressed reservations about the nomination of Justice (retired) Qizalbash. They said as a retired Supreme Court judge in his 80s, he had been out of touch with the legal community for nearly two decades and so was a bad choice to evaluate lawyers for their appointment as judges.

The Sindh Bar Council has nominated Lala Yasin Khan Babar as its representative in the JCP.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2010.


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