MULTAN/LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice called all the four judges of the Multan bench to the principal seat on Monday evening after the LHC Multan Bar Association announced boycotting the courts in protest at, what they say, the unfair conduct of a judge of the bench.

“We have decided not to appear before the judges of the high court and 27 courts of nine districts from Rajanpur to Sahiwal,” said Sher Zaman Qureshi, the LHC bar (Multan bench) president.

What led the bar to announce the boycott is a skirmish involving Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and lawyers during the hearing of a case of a mosque being built on state land, according to lawyers.

Mr Qureshi said 25 lawyers had submitted their power of attorney in the case and of them hardly five to six, including himself, were present in the court.

He said that while one of his colleagues was putting up arguments in the case, the judge asked him (Mr Qureshi) to move aside and avoid making the courtroom crowded.

Though they informed him about their power of attorney, the judge threw the file of the case and used language not appropriate for a judge, he claimed.

He said that the lawyers’ protest will continue till the transfer of the judge.

Sources, however, said that the judge had asked the lawyers to sit on benches while their colleague was arguing but the lawyers refused to leave the place. They said that an argument took place between the lawyers and the judge upon which the judge left the court room.

A general body meeting of the bar was held and later a group of lawyers arrived outside the courtroom of Justice Khan and broke his nameplate.

Later, they took out a procession from the court premises to the main road outside of the court building.

Former LHCBA Multan bench president Qamarul Zaman Butt said that the problem existed in both the bar and the bench. Court Additional Registrar Iftikhar Ahmad Samdani refused to comment.

According to our staff reporter in Lahore, LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took a strong notice of lawyers’ misbehaving with Justice Qasim Khan at the Multan bench and constituted a committee to probe the matter.

The chief justice also called all the four judges working at the Multan seat back to the principal seat, Lahore, till further order. Cases relating to Multan seat would also be instituted at the principal seat.

The LHC authorities have also asked Pakistan Bar Council and Punjab Bar Council to take notice of the incident and bring the perpetrators to book.

A statement issued by the LHC said lawyers from Multan could approach the inquiry committee comprising Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali and Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi in a day, otherwise, the lawyers involved in the misconduct would be proceeded against in light of Supreme Court’s decision in the Tariq Aziz case.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2017