PESHAWAR, Nov 8: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday ruled that the restriction on the practice of law by convicts was right for being in line with the Constitution.

The ruling was given by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth during the hearing into former divisional forest officer Qazi Mohammad Ashraf’s petition for enrolment as a lawyer despite conviction for corruption.

The bench observed that law was a noble profession and the amendment to Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act, 1973 was in line with the Constitution.

The petitioner, who was sentenced to two years imprisonment after being convicted by an accountability court in 2004 for corrupt practices, had requested the court to declare the said amendment unconstitutional and order the bar council to enroll him as a lawyer.

Ijaz Khan Sabi, lawyer for the petitioner, said previously, Section 26 (2) (ii) of Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act, 1973  declared that a convict stood disqualified from being enrolled as an advocate for five years since the day of his conviction.

He added that the law was later amended in Sept 2005 by the deletion of the said section and addition of a new one, 28-A.

The lawyer said the new section provided permanent disqualification of such a person from enrolling as lawyer, who was dismissed or removed from the government service or of a public statutory corporation on misconduct or moral turpitude, or he/she had been convicted for an offence of moral turpitude by a court, or he/she had been declared a tout and such declaration had not been withdrawn.

Mr Sabi said the amendment to the law was unconstitutional and in violation to different provisions, including Article 18, which provided protection to the profession of a citizen.

He said the amendment was also in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which authorised a person to assume a profession of his/her choice.

The lawyer said when disqualification of a parliamentarian was only for five years after his conviction, then why it should be permanent for becoming a lawyer.

The chief justice observed that law was a very noble profession and it should stay clear from those convicted for corruption.

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