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Pakistan Bar Council condemns lawyers-police clash in Lahore

Pakistan Bar Council condemns lawyers-police clash in Lahore

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) — the top regulatory body of lawyers — expressed its regret at the Lahore incident where lawyers and the police clashed with each other after an arrest warrant was issued against the president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association’s (LHCBA) Multan chapter.

In a statement issued on Monday, PBC vice chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon and chairman executive committee Hafeezur Rehman condemned the law enforcement agencies for using force against lawyers.

However, they also urged the lawyers to act with wisdom and not to politicise the position taken by those bent upon using violent tactics to intimidate the judiciary.

On Monday, the police fired tear gas and used water cannons on protesting lawyers gathered at the Lahore High Court, where contempt of court proceedings were under way against LHCBA Multan president Sher Zaman Qureshi.

Both PBC leaders emphasised restraint by the bench and the bar, recalling that senior lawyers and several bar leaders had earlier warned the judiciary not to overlook several incidents of high-handedness by a group of lawyers.

Legal fraternity’s leaders emphasise need for restraint by the bench and the bar

Instead, the judges glossed over such unpleasant behaviour and their partiality towards a pressure group of lawyers emboldened them to carry forward their threatening posture from the subordinate courts to the high courts, they said.

Thus the gulf between the bar and the bench widened when judges ignored the sentiments of the bar on “ill-advised” elevation of “unsuitable” candidates to the bench, the bar leaders said, adding that this attitude towards the legal fraternity undermined respect for the dignity of courts.

This was further exacerbated by the attitude of some judges who routinely humiliated lawyers by refusing to pass orders/judgements for long periods of time after reserving their verdicts, they said.

It’s high time the lawyers took stock of their own attitudes and the judiciary reflected upon its dealings with the bar and the selective use of the law of contempt, they emphasised.

This should, by no means, condone acts of violence carried out by members of the legal fraternity, they said.

Human rights activist Asma Jahangir also deplored the incident and said lawyers should not use violence or take matters in their hands.

“The lawyers should use the quality of their persuasion to settle things,” she stressed, adding that judges should also learn some restraint.

This incident was a lesson for the judges that they should not be hand in gloves with pressure groups of lawyers, she said.

Meanwhile, the bar associations in different cities across the country are on strike today in protest against the Lahore incident.

In separate statements issued on Monday, the Sindh Bar Council, Karachi Bar Association and Malir Bar Association announced boycott of the courts today.

The Lahore Bar Association and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council have also made similar boycott announcements.

The Peshawar High Court Bar Association and lawyers’ organisations in Balochistan have condemned the incident.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2017

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