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October 14, 2018

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Will rather resign instead of doing injustice: CJP

LAHORE: The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Saqib Nisar, on Saturday threatened to tender resignation instead of doing injustice after a group of lawyers started protesting in the Courtroom No 1 to show support to their colleagues purportedly involved in manhandling a police officer at the court premises.

The top judge had taken suo moto notice of the incident on October 7, in which a group of 15 lawyers led by Saif Khokhar, Nabeel Haider and Mustafa Khokhar had attacked ASI Samar Riaz Khan in a district and sessions court where Khan had gone to submit record in a case. A large number of lawyers, including Lahore Bar Association President Malik Arshad and Secretary Sohail Murshad, were present in the court on Saturday. As the hearing commenced at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry, Sohail Murshad pleaded the top judge to suspend the FIR lodged against a lawyer, saying that their colleagues did not beat up the policeman.

However, the chief justice declined the request, saying he would relinquish the charge instead of doing injustice. “Neither the FIR would be suspended nor would Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) withdrawn. The lawyers said if Section 7 of the ATA was not suspended, they would stage a sit-in outside the court. Murshad argued that the lawyers would stage a sit-in outside the court if the top judge did not suspend the clauses regarding terrorism in the FIR.

However, the chief justice turned down the plea and observed that the lawyers should stage a sit-in as he would come out of the courtroom to see the demonstration. To this, the lawyers started chanted slogans in the courtroom, however, the chief justice remained unmoved and observed that,” You all know me better. You won’t be able to pressurise me to get a favourable decision.” Anyone responsible for the crime – be it a lawyer, investigative officer or policeman – would be punished,” remarked the chief justice who admonished the lawyers for raising slogans against him. “You should be ashamed of raising slogans against your father,” remarked the chief justice while addressing the protesting lawyers. “It is the top court of the country, not a civil court,” said the chief justice harshly, who had also practised as lawyer at Lahore. To this, Malik Arshad clarified that the slogans of ‘shame, shame’ were aimed at police whose attitude is “very bad”. “Those who chant such slogans should not appear before my court,’ remarked the chief justice.

During the hearing, the court also rejected a request to prevent the arrest of the accused lawyers until a decision was made in the case. He also ordered a copy of the video of the lawyers assaulting the ASI, which, he said, would be displayed in the next hearing of the case to determine who was responsible. “I will do justice at all costs even if lawyers resort to abuse me.” Previously, justice Nisar had issued notices to Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Ahsan Bhoon as well as the president and general secretary of the Lahore District Bar Association. The Lahore Bar president also said that it was settled between both sides that the court video should not be leaked, which prompted the chief justice to ask why. Lawyers’ hooliganism should be brought before the public, he added. In response, Malik said then secret cameras should also be installed in police stations to expose police maltreatment. The chief justice said he would look into the issue later. At this point, a lawyer from the crowd shouted out that videos of the Supreme Judicial Council's (SJC) proceedings should also be leaked.

The chief justice asked whoever has made the comment to approach the rostrum, from which the lawyer responsible for the remark shied away, saying he was only stating that if court videos can be leaked then so should videos of the SJC. Chief Justice Nisar admonished the lawyer for misbehaving.

Addressing the lawyers, he said, “You have made my head bow down. The responsible would not be allowed to go scot-free, the lawyers are free to do whatever they want to do against me.” He stated that staging protests would not keep the court from taking action against those responsible for the incident. However, the LBA president pleaded that the lawyers are the vanguard of judiciary and would not stage a sit-in.

The chief justice subsequently ordered that the video in question should be played during the next hearing and told the Punjab Bar to continue its inquiry into the matter. On the next hearing, the video regarding the manhandling of the policeman would be examined to track the culprits,’ remarked the top judge. The top judge has also issued notices to Punjab IGP Mohammad Tahir to appear before the court and submit an investigation report on the matter on October 13.

After the heated debate, the lawyers launched a protest at the GPO Chowk, prompting the top judge to walk out of the courtroom. He reached the GPO Chowk to receive the applications by the citizens, among the protesting lawyers.

The Islampura police had earlier registered a case under terrorism charges against the lawyers for thrashing, detaining and injuring a policeman. The ASI said the lawyers had thrashed, tortured and criminally intimidated him. He said that the lawyers had also torn off his uniform and kept him in illegal custody in a room. He alleged that the lawyers had also threatened to kill him if he took legal action against them. The SP Investigation Naveed Irshad had earlier said that the police are investigating the case, but the lawyers had not appear before the investigation officer.

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