Lawyers boycotted Lahore High Court (LHC) proceedings on Wednesday after Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) president Pir Masood Chishti halted the proceedings of a case being heard be Justice Erum Sajjad Gul.
She had refused to take up a case. Chishti had insisted on fixing the case for another date even though she told him that she had already re-listed the case and could not take up the matter again.
The judge refused the ‘demand’ and asked him to leave the rostrum so that the next case could be heard. Chishti did not leave the rostrum immediately. This led to an exchange of harsh words between him and the judge. The judge then went into her retiring room. The judge had earlier granted a stay order requested by Chishti in the case.
Later, Chishti visited other courtrooms, directing lawyers to boycott proceedings. He then called a meeting of the general house. The house constituted a committee to investigate the issue. The participants also decided unanimously that lawyers would boycott cases being heard by Justice Gul.
Talking to reporters, Chishti said they would continue their protest till the ouster of Justice Gul or her transfer to an LHC bench in Multan, Bahawalpur or Rawalpindi.
Addressing the meeting, Chishti said had he not been the bar president, he would have instantly settled the score in the courtroom. “I did not want to take any step before taking the house into confidence. The office of the president is a gift from the bar members,” he said.
LHCBA secretary Ahmed Qayyum said that the judge’s behaviour with the bar president was “extremely improper and indecent”. “The judge insulted the mandate given by lawyers of the Punjab,” he said. Former Supreme Court Bar Association secretary Sayed Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari said that he had been present in the courtroom when the incident occurred. “Chishti had requested the judge to fix a date for the re-listed case. However, the judge said that he was pressuring her. The judge directed Chishti to leave the rostrum as the order had been announced,” he said.
Pakistan Bar Council member Azam Nazir Tarar said that lawyers respected judges and expected respect from them. “We will not remain silent after such an incident. Chishti is our representative. All the lawyers are with him [on this issue],” he said.
Requesting anonymity, a woman member of the LHCBA told The Express Tribune that the judge was not to be blamed. “This [commotion] is on account of the [LHCBA] president’s [inflated] ego,” she said. She said women members of the bar too faced discrimination. “Some of the male members create hurdles in the way of their female colleagues,” she said. Out of the 60 LHC judges, only three are women. Justice Gul was appointed on June 8, 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2015.
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