ISLAMABAD, March 8: Lawyers on Saturday observed a black day to protest against the amendments made to the Constitution through the LFO, Gen Pervez Musharraf’s assumption of president’s office by holding a referendum, and extension in the retirement age of the superior court judges.
The lawyers community led by Hamid Khan, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and Vice-Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, held a protest meeting in Islamabad and hoisted a black flag on the PBC office located on the premises of the Supreme Court.
The lawyers, who were joined by forty MNAs from three opposition parties — MMA, PPP, and PML(N) — paraded from the Supreme Court building up to Parliament House.
After hoisting a black flag at the PBC office, and at the office of the Supreme Court Bar Association, the lawyers held a protest meeting.
The meeting, presided over by Vice-Chairman PBC Mian Abbas, was attended by Hamid Khan, Arif Chaudhry, Vice-Chairman Punjab Bar Council, Chaudhry Ikram, ex-president of Lahore High Court Bar Association, Nayyar Bukhari MNA and other leaders.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Sheri Rehman, Yousaf Talpur of PPP, Javed Hashmi of PML(N), and Hafiz Hussain of MMA, in their speeches lauded the role of the bar for their struggle for the rule of law and vowed to wage a joint struggle for the revival of the 1973 Constitution.
Hamid Khan, the SCBA president and a central figure in the lawyers struggle, said the bar did not recognise Gen Pervez Musharraf as President of Pakistan by virtue of his referendum, his powers to dissolve the National Assembly in his discretion, head the supra-parliament body called the NSC and a three-year extension in the retirement age of superior court judges.
He said the legal fraternity was of the view that parliament should elect the president under the constitutional mechanism. It was not possible to elect anyone to this office through referendum.
Vesting discretionary powers in the hands of the president to dissolve the National Assembly was harmful to democracy, he said, adding that the bar condemned such efforts.
He said the bar was also opposed to the idea of NSC as it believed that parliament was the supreme institution. He said the military government, which had been given a three-year validation by the court under the “doctrine of necessity”, reciprocated the gesture by extending the tenure of the judges.
The lawyers, after the protest meeting, came out onto the Constitution Avenue chanting slogan “No LFO, No LFO” and marched up to Parliament building where speeches were made against the infamous order.
The lawyers community had chosen March 8 for their protest on purpose, as on this day the sitting Chief Justice Shaikh Riaz Ahmad attained the retirement age under the 1973 Constitution. The bar asked him not to accept the three-year extension given to judges by the military regime.
Our Reporter adds from Lahore: The members of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), and Punjab Bar Council (PBC) burnt copies of the LFO and held a protest rally on The Mall.
President LHCBA Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari, and former vice-chairman PBC Muhammad Ramzan Chaudhry hoisted black flags on the buildings of these associations to register a symbolic protest against the LFO and three-year extension granted to the superior court judges. The lawyers wore black badges and boycotted the courts from 11am to 12 noon.
In its general house meeting, the LHCBA unanimously approved a resolution saying the Chief Justice of Pakistan and Justice Qazi Farooq of the Supreme Court had ceased to remain as the SC judges since their respective service tenures had lapsed under the provisions of the 1973 Constitution.
All the bar associations of the country had written a letter to the CJ to announce his retirement on Saturday, the day he was supposed to retire upon turning 65.
It was further resolved that both judges should not work on the Lahore branch registry of the Supreme Court since they “were no more judges of the SC” and if they did so, the lawyers would take “stern action”. The LHCBA also rejected the LFO, declaring it an anti-constitutional document.
Reports from Multan, Faisalabad, Mianwali, Gujranwala, Kasur, Sahiwal, Sialkot, Toba Tek Singh, Vehari, Bahawalpur and Sargodha said the district bars there took out processions.
In Karachi, the Sindh High Court Bar Association members wore black armbands and observed a token strike from 11am to 12 noon, according an SHCBA press release.
Saturdays are reserved for writing of judgments and no court proceedings were scheduled.
Our Quetta correspondent adds: The Balochistan’s lawyers also joined the countrywide protest by boycotting the proceedings of the high and subordinate courts.
The protesting lawyers, led by Mr Ali Ahmed Kurd, President of Balochistan Bar Association, and other senior lawyers took out a procession and marched through the main roads here, carrying placards and banners inscribed with anti-government slogans.