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June 14, 2019

Lawyers divide over PBC strike call

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June 14, 2019

LAHORE/KARACHI: The Lahore High Court Bar Association and the Lahore Bar Association have distanced themselves from the Pakistan Bar Council June 14 strike call to express solidarity with Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Both the bars held their general house meetings and announced that no strike would be observed today and the lawyers would appear before courts. A general house meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) convened on Thursday to take up five resolutions on the issue of a reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa was adjourned due to rumpus. The house turned into a fish market at the very beginning after Secretary Fayaz Ahmad Ranjha decided to read the resolutions himself instead of giving this opportunity to the movers.

There were two resolutions in support of Justice Isa one jointly moved by Syed Manzoor Gillani and Rana Asadullah Khan while the second by Barrister Zafarullah Khan.

Khaqan Mir, Ishtiaq Gohar and Zafar Iqbal Mangan had moved resolutions in support of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) hearing the reference against Justice Isa. The secretary started reading the first joint resolution when its mover Mr Khan objected and sought permission to present his resolution before the house. However, the secretary turned down the request that led to uproar in the house.

LHCBA President Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhry and Vice President Kabir Ahmad were present in the meeting. Law officers of federal and provincial governments, who are mostly affiliated to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the PML-Q were also present in the house to support the pro-SJC resolutions while lawyers belonging to the PML-N also attended the proceedings to back anti-reference resolutions. Lawyers belonging to the PML-Q had come from different cities to attend the meeting.

The sloganeering by both sides of lawyers made it difficult for the bar’s secretary to continue with the proceedings of the house. Later a statement issued by the LHCBA said the house was adjourned due to rumpus and it will soon be convened at an appropriate time to take up the resolutions. However, it said the bar had nothing to do with any political party and the matter of the reference was pending before the SJC. It also hoped that the SJC will decide the matter strictly in accordance with the law and the Constitution. It also distanced itself from the strike call given by the Pakistan Bar Council for June 14 (today) when the SJC will be hearing the reference against Justice Isa.

After the house was adjourned, both sides of the lawyers gathered outside the bar room and chanted slogans in favour of their respective stance. They dispersed peacefully after half an hour.

The Lahore Bar Association also announced not to observe strike and hoped that the SJC would decide the references against judges of superior courts strictly in accordance with the law.

Meanwhile, the legal fraternity in Karachi became divided into two groups over the issue of Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa as one group which represents bars and councils is going on a strike on Friday (today) while the other which is led by lawyers associated with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are opposing the move.

A press release issued by the Karachi Bar Association (KBA) on Thursday announced that all judicial proceedings at city courts on June 14 will be boycotted as they will observe a strike in line with the call given by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Pakistan Bar Council. The Sindh Bar Council also announced supporting the strike. Later, the likeminded lawyers also held a press conference at the Karachi bar. The KBA’s former president Mehmood-ul-Hasan said the reference against Justice Isa is tantamount to bring the judiciary under pressure. He said unless the courts are independent, the country could not progress. He termed the filing of a reference against Justice Isa by the government an act of victimization because the judge gave remarks against the performance of the state security agencies in Faizabad Dharna and in the Quetta Inquiry Commission cases. “There are already 300 references pending before the Supreme Judicial Council, why only [Justice Isa’s] been taken up,” he asked. The SCBA senior vice president (Sindh) Salahuddin Gandapur said an independent judicial system is necessary for democracy and the lawyers will continue with their struggle to uphold the rule of law. He said the government has created an air in the country in which the current democratic system has become questionable. He said a strike will be observed in all the lower and higher courts in the province on Friday against the reference and added their agenda is pressure-free and independent judiciary in the country. Meanwhile, the anti-strike group, Lawyer Action Committee, held a separate press conference and said no one is above the law and if there is a reference against someone then it should be taken to a conclusive end. Its representative Shakeel Ahmed said those opposing the reference should have trust in their own courts that they will make a fair decision. PTI’s legal wing leader Abdul Wahab Baloch said justice should be for everyone and this is the time when everyone regardless of their occupation or affiliation be held accountable for the crimes if they have committed any. He said the lawyers are supportive of government action against the “corrupt” people.

Pakistan Bar Council’s strike call for Friday (today) against filing of references against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and a high court judge also divided the legal fraternity in Multan and Mailsi.

In Multan, presidents of high court bar association and district bar Multan have announced supporting the strike call and left city for Islamabad Thursday evening. However, high court bar general secretary, and district bar senior vice president have rejected the strike call.

Similarly, the Mailsi bar has also opposed the strike call. The office-bearers said they would not become part of any movement launched in violation of the law and Constitution.

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