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August 27, 2019

Contempt notice to PBC vice-chairman: KP lawyers observe strike, some say none above law


August 27, 2019

PESHAWAR: The majority of lawyers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa observed strike on Monday to protest the issuance of the contempt of court notice to the Pakistan Bar Council vice-chairman by the Peshawar High Court over his statements against the PHC chief justice.

However, a group of senior lawyers in Peshawar denounced the strike, claiming no one was above the law whether a lawyer or layman.

A senior Supreme Court lawyer Abdul Sattar Khan, KP Bar Council member Shah Faisal Utmankhel and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-affiliated Insaf Lawyers Forum members including Inam Khan Yousafzai and others staged a protest rally against the strike at the premises of the District Courts and PHC with a slogan “No one is above the law.”

The Peshawar High Court Bar Association and Peshawar Bar Association observed strike on the call of All Pakistan Lawyers Action Committee to support Syed Amjad Shah, Vice-Chairman, Pakistan Bar Council, against the contempt notice issued to him by the PHC.

In a statement about the strike call, the Lawyers Action Committee said that everyone strongly pleaded to defend and support Syed Amjad Shah, the leader of the lawyers.

It said that strikes for judges since 2007 were a common phenomenon, so why not a strike in support of lawyers.

The lawyers observed strike to protest the PHC contempt of court notice to the vice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council for his remarks against the chief justice in a media interview.

In the contempt of court notice issued through additional registrar (copy available with The News), it was stated that the court honours and acknowledges the fundamental right to speech and expression cited in Article 19 of Constitution, but some portion of the interview appears to deviate from this right.

“During the interview, you (Syed Amjad Shah) made contemptuous and derogatory statements against the Chief Justice Peshawar High Court,” the notice stated.

In the notice, a complete text in Urdu has been quoted from the interview of the PBC vice-chairman in which he levelled serious allegations against the PHC chief justice and accused him of favouritism and nepotism in the appointment of new additional judges of the high court.

“Besides the direct slurs, allegations of nepotism and favouritism, there was innuendo aimed at belittling, scandalizing, disturbing the order and decorum of the office of the PHC Chief Justice and was intended to bring the authority of the Chief Justice on the administration of law to disrespect and disrepute,” the notice stated.

“This act prima facia appears to constitute contempt as defined under section 3 read with section 11 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, and you shall be given a fair chance to establish your allegations and you may bring forth (if so apt) any evidence in your possession, reach or authority and knowledge establishing the nexus of the nominated and selected judges to and in the office of Chief Justice, ever since he was elevated to the bench. Similarly, any other evidence could be produced to establish prior acquaintance of the Chief Justice with any of the newly elevated judges of this court,” the contempt of court notice stated.

The court directed the PBC vice-chairman to appear in person on August 30 at 9 am before the court of PHC chief justice in connection with the matter.

“In case you failed to appear or your reply was found untenable, proceedings under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 may be initiated as deemed by the Chief Justice,” the notice stated.