ISLAMABAD: A group of lawyers filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, demanding that a decision taken by Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah to suspend judicial work at the Multan bench be declared illegal.

The petition is an effort to build pressure on CJ Shah by lawyers, especially from Multan, who also adopted a resolution against him.

However, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice-chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon has sided with the LHC chief justice and condemned a last week’s incident when a group of lawyers barged into CJ Shah’s courtroom and created a hostile situation for the bench holding contempt of court proceedings against the president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association’s (LHCBA) Multan chapter.

Mr Bhoon said the lawyers’ behaviour was unbecoming and was not only against all legal and ethical norms, but also amounted to disgracing the bench and the bar besides giving a bad name to the legal fraternity.

PBC demands action against ‘delinquent’ lawyers

The PBC, the top regulatory body of lawyers, has directed the Punjab Bar Council to take stern action against the delinquent lawyers.

On the other hand, the Multan District Bar Association, in a meeting on Tuesday, censured “attempts to divide the lawyers’ fraternity” and also condemned pressure being exerted on LHCBA Multan president Sher Zaman Qureshi by “certain elements of security agencies”.

On July 24, Mr Qureshi along with some lawyers allegedly misbehaved with Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan in Multan during court proceedings.

Subsequently, the LHC chief justice withdrew judges from the Multan bench in exercise of his constitutional powers, but made available the principal seat of the LHC, i.e. Lahore, and the Bahawalpur bench for the dispensation of justice.

Though the Multan bench was restored after a few days, lawyers are still on strike.

The petition, filed jointly by Mr Qureshi and District Bar Association President Muhammad Yousuf Zubair, sought immediate attention of the apex court over the state of affairs.

Filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the petition requested the Supreme Court to declare the closure of the Multan bench void, illegal, against the law and also against the oath of the judge under Article 194 of the Constitution.

The suspension of judicial work at the Multan bench, the petition said, was a gross violation of Article 198(3) as it deprived general public of their fundamental rights.

The petition also asked the Supreme Judicial Council to remove LHC’s chief justice and registrar from office under Article 209 of the Constitution for their misconduct and misuse of authority.

It also asked the apex court to pass an order to suspend the notification or instructions of the LHC chief justice of withdrawing judicial work from the Multan bench.

In May, the LHC chief justice sought help from apex bodies of lawyers, including the PBC, to stamp out rampant strikes as they made courts “dysfunctional”.

During the three months to March, around 600,000 cases could not be taken up due to 948 strikes, he said.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2017