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Opinion

Fleeting moments

August 24, 2017

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Fleeting moments: Beyond the rules of conduct

It has become a common scene these days to observe members of the legal community protesting on the street for one reason or the other. The black coats always find a reason to show off their strength and unity among themselves. The recent show of vandalism was staged outside the chambers of the chief justice of the Punjab High Court. But Justice Mansoor Ali Shah is made of sterner stuff and is not the kind to buckle under pressure tactics from lawyers.

Both lawyers and young doctors – the first being the guardian of the law and the second the messiahs of the ailing public – don’t realise what opinion the people hold about them. Presently, we talk about the lawyers, who acquired a sense of supremacy and strength during the movement for the restoration of former CJP, Iftikhar Chaudhry. The successful movement surprised Justice Chaudhry as well as the lawyers involved in it. Iftikhar Chaudhry thought he had become a politician and went on to create a political party of his own. His political views, which we sometimes hear, are, to say the least, inane.

Those who reach the pinnacle of authority, where they can move things with the twist of an eyebrow, imagine that engaging in politics and running a political party is as orderly as that. To their dismay, they soon find that politics isn’t their cup of tea.

However, the issue at hand is the reprehensible behaviour of the lawyers’ groups when, instead of aiding justice, they have taken the law into their own hands and stormed the courts in hordes to press for their demands. The recent showdown at the premises of the Lahore High Court is simply abominable. Some of the rowdy lawyers smashed the windows of the office block of the provincial chief justice and beat up the policemen on duty. What triggered the protest was an arrest warrant issued against the president of the Multan Bar for vandalising the court premises in Multan.

What does this show other than the fact that so many among the men of the law are unruly? Are we becoming a nation of recalcitrant hordes? What does it show when lawyers in black coats brickbat the offices of the judges, abuse and lock up the judges in their courtrooms and rough up the policemen performing duty outside the courts?

But how do we tame unruly lawyers? Some members of the legal community think that many among the delinquent lawyers possess fake law degrees. Some years ago, the bar council, in consultation with Nadra, had devised a strategy to issue new CNICs to lawyers, with their legal profession written on it. Before issuing the CNICs, the degrees of the lawyers had to be verified by the relevant authority. The plan failed because the fake degree-holders refused to register with Nadra. Reportedly, hundreds of black coats practice in the Islamabad High Court without genuine law degrees.

In fact, the level of moral degradation in society has touched so low that possessing fake degrees – in medicine and law – and PhDs is no longer news. How many people are employed in rewarding jobs throughout the country on the strength of fake degrees granted by a notorious degree-manufacturing factory? Some of the fake-degree business office-holders in the US were tried and put behind bars. In our dear land, it’s all quiet. Why? It’s because the fraudulent degree-holders belong to an influential and affluent segment of society.

Surprisingly, the number of lawyers with fraudulent law degrees in neighbouring India runs up to 45 percent, according to a report published in The Times of India in January 2017. But India’s Supreme Court Bar Council took serious notice of the practice of acquiring fake degrees by lawyers and it is taking measures to weed out lawyers who have fake degrees. Unfortunately, our legal community is not prepared to filter out fake lawyers. Imagine a lawyer who buys a black coat, black tie and starts roaming the corridors of the courts to net clients instead of earning a law degree. Any guess how to tell a fake lawyer from a real one?

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore. Email: [email protected]

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