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March 26, 2020

Coronavirus: Sindh Bar organisations ask members not to attend courts

Peshawar

March 26, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh lawyers organisations, including the Sindh Bar Council and Sindh High Court Bar Association, have advised their members not to attend the courts in the province due to coronavirus threat and the lockdown situation.

The Vice Chairman of Sindh Bar Council (SBC), the apex body of lawyers of province, Syed Haider Imam Rizvi, and Chairman Executive Committee Shafqat Rahim have announced that in view of the prevailing Coronavirus pandemic and its impacts across the country, carrying on with routine court proceedings may endanger the lives of lawyers, litigants and judges. Therefore, the SBC has decided that the lawyers throughout Sindh shall not attend courts, including High Courts and special courts from March 24 to March 28 except urgent cases only until a further decision. Rizvi told The News that though civil case proceedings have been suspended but proceedings of criminal cases are continuing and the chief justice of Sindh High Court was requested to direct suspension or minimising the court work as done during vacations by reducing the 75 percent staff to protect the lives of lawyers, litigants, court staff, prosecutors and judges.

Similarly, the President of Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), Zia Makhdoom, told The News that to keep everyone safe from the deadly virus, the legal fraternity has demanded suspension or minimizing the court proceedings and granting bails to keep them safe from this virus in jails, which are already overloaded and congested.

Similarly, Secretary of Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) advocate Hasib Jamali has also advised the lawyers to boycott the court proceedings during the lockdown.

They said that the secretary of the Sindh High Court Bar twice spoke with the Registrar of Sindh High Court (SHC) for suspending and minimising the number of cases, during the lockdown, but the SHC registrar insisted that the high court on March 22 had issued a directive notifying that the high court, City Courts and other courts throughout the province will continue to work.

The Registrar SHC, however, confirmed that 'no adverse order' shall be passed against any lawyer who cannot appear before the courts. The SHCBA statement disapproved the decision which has left the lawyers and the litigants in a fix due to the health advice about COVID 19 and the province-wide lockdown. The SHCBA strongly recommended to their members to abstain from appearing before the courts till lifting of the lockdown or a new directive is issued by the government or the Sindh High Court.

It is pertinent to mention here that courts specially the district courts commonly known as ‘city courts’ are compact and in many instances one small chamber is shared by two to three judges as the number of courts have increased in the recent years. Most of the courts are also located in small, dark and dingy rooms with no proper ventilation. Recently, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed had also visited the city courts to check the problems.

On the other hand, the prosecutors are forced to work in the corridors due to paucity of space and litigants are always found complaining for lack of parking space, sitting arrangements and toilets.