KARACHI, June 20: While lawyers on Thursday observed a complete boycott of legal proceedings in subordinate courts in the city against what they described as insulting remarks of the Sindh High Court chief justice, the SHC benches here continued their work with lawyers appearing before them. Two division benches and a single bench of the SHC in Karachi heard the urgent matters and several bail applications.
Representatives of lawyers alleged that the SHC judges were specifically directed by the SHC chief justice to hold the proceedings to fail the lawyers’ boycott.
The Sindh Bar Council (SBC), an apex lawyers’ body at the provincial level, had last week expressed concern over extensive complaints about perceived corruption in the judiciary and on June 18, the chief justice responded to the allegations and held some elements within the SBC responsible for corruption.The following day the council reacted to the CJ’s remarks and again levelled serious allegations and also gave a province-wide call for complete boycott of courts.
The courts wore a deserted look and hundred of cases fixed for the day at the city courts and district courts in Malir could not be taken up for hearing since the undertrial prisoners were not brought to the courts because of the lawyers’ strike.
The legal work at the special courts of the city was also badly distributed as the lawyers did not turn up.
Other parts of Sindh While the SHC circuit benches as well as district courts in Hyderabad and Larkana where lawyers’ representatives had a difference of opinion over the issue functioned as usual, lawyers boycotted legal proceedings at the SHC Sukkur bench and subordinate courts to lodge their protest over the remarks of the chief justice concerning the bar council.
The Hyderabad district and high court bar associations did not support the SBC call for the boycott of courts. SHC bar association Hyderabad chapter president Nisar Durrani said there were other ways to make one’s point. The bar associations usually adopted resolutions and held talks with the judiciary if they had some grievances, he said.
“Some of SBC members [from Karachi] want to thrust their opinion over others and that is not fair,” said Mr Durrani, one of the three SBC members from Hyderabad who has recently been elected SHCBA Hyderabad chapter president. “Only litigants suffer,” he said, recalling that the district bar and SHCBA Hyderabad chapter representatives were not present in the SBC meeting held in Hyderabad on June 18.
An SBC member, Abdul Sattar Kazi, complained that he had not been invited to the meeting that had decided to give a call for the Thursday strike.
SHCBA Hyderabad chapter general secretary Ayaz Tunio said that bar associations were supposed to take their members on board before giving a strike call. “The members have their important cases fixed so we have to take all this factors into account before backing or not backing any strike call,” he explained.
Hyderabad district bar association president Zafar Rajput termed the SBC initiative disappointing. He said he personally felt that defaming the institution of the judiciary was not good. “If there are charges against a judge, a reference can be filed against him instead of taking up the issue through newspapers,” he said.
In Sukkur, lawyers stayed away from court proceedings on the SBC call for protest over the remarks of the chief justice.
SHCBA Sukkur chapter president Quran Malano, Sukkur District Bar Association president Hadi Bux Bhat and other lawyers were of the opinion that SHC Chief Justice was not required to give any such statement concerning the bar council and lawyers. They said that the lawyers did highlight problems and it was up to the authorities concerned to solve them. They said the SBC and lawyers organizations would continue to highlight the problems.
In Larkana and Qambar-Shahdadkot, legal proceedings at the SHC circuit bench and district courts were not affected by the bar council strike, said Shamsuddin Abbasi, a senior lawyer, and district attorney Tarique Bhatti.
Meanwhile, court proceedings were boycotted by lawyers on the call of district bar association in Ghotki as well as in civil courts of Panu Aqil on Thursday.