Our client was eager to meet us on Saturday morning the 21st of April 2018. She was having trouble with her three younger brother and was waiting in the scorching heat outside the Lahore High court. When I saw her, she was smiling and glowing as if nothing troubled her. She told us that it has been 10 days and her FIR hasn’t been registered yet.
Upon asking what was her issue, she pulled out a picture of her where her face was covered with blood. It was horrible and painful to watch and my sockets were nearly wet. I turned around and told her right away that lets go to the office of Chief police officer of Lahore this instant.
We reached the SP office and his PSO helped us by calling over the SP operations Ali Raza Shah, the officer responsible of the Data Darbar area in Lahore. With the respected lady, Sumaira, we reached the SP office on lower Mall but the SP was not available. When we looked around for him, he was posing for the media having a photo session right next to the fireworks the police had confiscated earlier.
Finally when he decided to come back to his office, we were anxious and being hopeful that the FIR will be registered for Sumaira. Especially since 4 other lawyers accompanying this helpless woman, she might be able to ATLEAST get her FIR lodged. Little did we know, the political pressure would overpower the four lawyers within a few minutes.
SP Ali Raza, despite the fact that he looked at the photos telling the gruesome story of the crimes committed against her, told Sumaira to mediate the matters instead at the the police station.
When he was told that a month ago they broke her nose, and 10 days ago they almost killed her by hitting her on her head and left her with a bruised face and broken finger along with depriving her of the property she inherited from her parents, the norm of our society, his response was very clear. His tone of voice changed and he switched his language from Urdu to Punjabi right a way and demanded that we must follow HIS instructions. When we refused, we were made to leave the office by force.
By 2pm on Saturday, we knew that we can not file a private complaint under section 22A/B of Pakistan Penal Code anymore so we decided to take our case to the media, which was outside the Supreme Court registry Lahore at the time. The media reporters were horrified when they looked at the pictures and they asked us to take Sumaira inside where Chief Justice Saqib Nisar was presiding in the court.
For a young lawyer like myself, the most difficult thing to do is to speak before of the Chief Justice of Pakistan but we walked in the courtroom determined to let the Chief hear Sumaira out. Around 3pm, we went inside the court room number one and noticed that nearly 300-400 people had occupied the room.
Gazing over the court room fully packed with people, there he was, sitting alone facing the rostrum with a queue of people behind the rostrum with a hope to be heard. There were approximately 200 applicants in the courtroom, all walk ins. All of these applicants had lost hope and this rostrum was the only light they could see at the end of the tunnel. They were mostly widows, orphans andthe poorest of the poor. They were crying because of the suffering and torture they had facedin their lives.
The honourable Chief Justice was giving full and complete attention to the applicants and he was all ears to them giving them all the time they wanted to vent out and tell him their grievances. The mighty judge who scolds all the high-ups during the day was being yelled at at this time helpless people pouring their hearts out and he was listening.
There were barely any lawyers in the court room and if any lawyers tried to talk on behalf of any of the applicants he was told to go take the back seat. It was the day for helpless, poor, powerless, weak and oppressed. The Chief was the Judge, and Chief was their lawyer. The concerned Government officials were sitting in the front row next to the rostrum on standby to make sure a quick action was taken for all the legitimate complains.
Finally, the voice was heard, the trials that had been pending for decades would now be concluding in weeks. The poor in the jail would get a fair trial. Fathers were hopeful, daughters felt powerful, mothers left with unlimited blessings from the only hope and widows with tears left with a smile.
We have always fantasized this kind of speedy justice. It was surreal to believe what we saw that day. It gave us hope yet we all cried at one point. The atmosphere was emotionally charged; even the Chief couldn’t hide his teary eyes.
Eventually it was our turn and my client Sumaira spoke her heart out on her turn. Chief did what was Sumairah’s right, the FIR was ordered and brothers were summoned along with the SHO of Data Darbar. Finally the Messiah is here! (The writer is a Lahore based lawyer)