Tensions between bar, bench escalate
* Lawyers boycott courts, take out rallies in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan
* 1,300 lower court judges tender resignations
* Kurd holds LHC CJ responsible for clash
* Sindh lawyers give 3-day ultimatum to Punjab govt for arresting culprits
LAHORE/QUETTA/ KARACHI: Lawyers in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan protested on Monday demanding the transfer of Lahore District and Sessions Judge Zawar A Sheikh as well as police torture on lawyers.
Meanwhile, more than 1,300 judges of Punjab’s lower courts tendered their resignations to express solidarity with Sheikh as the bar-bench rift continued. The Lahore High Court Bar Association took out a rally from the Aiwan-e-Adal to the Post Master General Chowk on the call of the Pakistan Bar Council and Punjab Bar Council to express solidarity with members of the Lahore Bar Association who were demanding the transfer of the sessions judge. The participants chanted slogans against police and the Lahore High Court chief justice, demanding the chief justice of Pakistan ensure action against the policemen responsible for thrashing lawyers. The lawyers held a protest meeting outside the PMG’s office, addressed by former Supreme Court Bar Association president Ali Ahmed Kurd.
Responsible: Kurd held LHC CJ Khawaja Muhammad Sharif responsible for clashes between the lawyers and lower court judges. Criticising Justice Sharif, he said if the LHC CJ had morals, he would have come to the Aiwan-e-Adl and saved the lawyers from police highhandedness. He said the LBA had played a key role in restoration of the judiciary and the legal fraternity would not abandon them in such difficult times. He said police torture could never defeat the lawyers in their just demands. He also demanded the immediate transfer of the Lahore district and sessions judge.
Also on Monday, lawyers across Balochistan boycotted court proceedings condemning the police action against lawyers in Lahore. The lawyers did not appear in superior and lower courts and all cases in session and before local magistrates were adjourned until the next date.
“The incident in Lahore was a conspiracy hatched against lawyers to divide them,” Balochistan Bar Association President Baz Kakar told reporters. He strongly condemned the incident and said lawyers were united and would foil this attempt. Separately, members of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association, KP Bar Council and district bar staged a joint protest demonstration against the use of force by police against lawyers in Lahore and boycotted courts in protest. They chanted slogans against the Lahore police and demanded exemplary action against the perpetrators.
Ultimatum: However, the lawyer community in Sindh gave a three-day ultimatum to the Punjab government for arresting culprits of the LHC incident, otherwise they would observe a province-wide strike on Friday. They held the federal law minister and Punjab government responsible for police torture on lawyers in Lahore and said the authorities should accept the resignations of judges of the lower courts, as they could not indulge in politics. LHC CJ Khawaja Sharif rejected the resignations of civil and additional district and sessions judges of Punjab. The CJ directed all judicial officers to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities and mitigate the suffering of litigants. staff report/ daily times monitor/app