KARACHI, June 19: The simmering dispute between the Sindh High Court and the Sindh Bar Council over perceived corruption in the judiciary took a dramatic turn on Wednesday when the SBC announced a province-wide boycott of court proceedings on Thursday (today) over what it described as the insulting remarks of SHC Chief Justice Mushir Alam against the council.
The row between the bench and the bar erupted last week when SBC vice-chairman Mohammad Aqil and other leaders of the Karachi Bar Association (KBA) at a meeting in Sukkur expressed concern over widespread complaints about corruption in the subordinate judiciary and involvement of even judges of the high court in the menace.
The meeting had also noted that corruption in subordinate courts was rampant but the menace had made its way to high courts.
Later on Tuesday, CJ Alam responded to the SBC allegations and said some elements within the SBC did not want corruption to be eliminated from the law and justice system and the same elements were levelling serious allegations against judges. He remarked that it was the same people who were corrupt and promoting corruption. The CJ also criticised lawyers for giving strike calls and enforcing a boycott of court proceedings every now and then to serve vested interests.
On Wednesday, the SBC vice-chairman, accompanied by KBA leaders Mahmoodul Hasan and Naeem Qureshi, sharply reacted to the CJ’s remarks against the SBC and once against levelled serious allegations against him and other judges.
Meanwhile, informed sources told Dawn that the SBC allegations sent a wave of resentment among the judges of the high court and the subordinate judiciary, who wanted immediate action against those involved in maligning the judiciary to gain their personal interests.
They said that CJ Alam, who is currently visiting the district courts and bars in the interior of the province, took serious notice of the SBC utterances and ‘an appropriate action’ would be initiated against those involved in tarnishing the image of the judiciary.
The sources said that the SHC was collecting information on complaints against judicial officers and staff of the subordinate judiciary for the past two months and over 20 judges were served with show-cause notices in this regard.
They said that a certain section of the legal fraternity was disgruntled by the action initiated against certain judicial officers on complaints of corruption.
They said that the districts bars in the interior of Sindh showed their satisfaction over the overall performance of the high court and district courts during the visit of the chief justice.
The SBC leaders told a press conference that they had proof of corruption in the judiciary, alleging that those judges of subordinate courts involved in corruption were given promotions.
When asked if their utterances could lead to contempt of court proceedings against them, the leaders of the legal fraternity dared the SHC CJ to take notice of contempt of court against certain political leaders, including Faisal Raza Abidi and Sharjeel Memon of the Pakistan People’s Party, in the first instance.
They urged the competent authorities to ensure that posting of judges in the Sindh High Court was made on a merit basis and promotions were given only to honest judges with proven capabilities of dispensing justice in a transparent manner.
The SBC leaders said that the legal fraternity had striven for the restoration of the judiciary with the aim that it would bring an end to widespread corruption in the judiciary and dispense justice.
However, they alleged that contrary to their expectations corruption was rampant in the judiciary and those judicial officers involved in corruption were promoted to the next ranks.