LAHORE: The Supreme Court has sought a detailed report from the Lahore High Court (LHC) registrar on the events of hooliganism by lawyers at the Multan bench and the principal seat of the LHC, and expects that the bench hearing contempt proceedings against the LHC bar association (LHCBA) Multan president would wait for the apex court’s decision on the matter.
Courtroom No. 1 at the Lahore registry was crowded with lawyers on Wednesday when a larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took up an appeal filed by LHCBA Multan president Sher Zaman Qureshi against non-bailable arrest warrants issued for him by the LHC in a contempt case.
Other members of the bench include Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
Hamid Khan, who heads the Professional Group of lawyers, along with several elected representatives of various bar associations and councils affiliated with his group appeared on behalf of Mr Qureshi. Supreme Court Bar Association president Rasheed A. Rizvi, who also belongs to Hamid Khan’s group, represented the petition on behalf of Mr Qureshi.
CJ says dispute could have been resolved if LHCBA Multan president had appeared in court
Advocate Rizvi said that lawyers had great respect for the judiciary but Mr Qureshi had not wanted to appear before a larger bench of the LHC because of “unavoidable” circumstances. Mr Qureshi, who was also present in the court, had filed a written apology at the onset of the hearing.
Chief Justice Nisar observed that events of hooliganism by lawyers were painful for him as they had given a bad name to the institutions of the judiciary and the bar.
He asked the SCBA president whether the dignity of the judiciary had not been compromised by Mr Qureshi’s defiance of court orders. The chief justice turned to other senior lawyers standing behind the rostrum and asked why an advocate would not appear if summoned before a high court.
Chief Justice Nisar said that the dispute could have been resolved at an initial stage if Mr Qureshi had appeared in court and presented his point of view.
Advocate Rizvi argued that the Multan bar president had not been involved in the alleged misbehaviour with a judge or the incident of vandalism.
However, Justice Khosa observed that if the lawyers wanted to protect the justice system they must respect the orders of the courts.
The bench adjourned hearing of the case till the third week of October and directed the LHC registrar to submit a report on the incidents that had taken place at the Multan bench and the principal seat of the LHC.
After the hearing, a large group of lawyers shouted slogans in support of Mr Qureshi, lifted him on their shoulders and showered him with rose petals.
On July 24, Mr Qureshi, accompanied by other lawyers, had misbehaved with Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and obstructed the judicial proceedings of his court at the Multan bench. They had also ransacked the court premises and ripped off the judge’s nameplate.
Taking notice of the incident, LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had constituted a committee comprising two judges of the court to resolve the matter.
However, no lawyer or representative of the bar approached the committee and the chief justice formed a five-judge larger bench and issued contempt of court notices to Mr Qureshi and another lawyer, Syed Qaiser Abbas Kazmi. While Mr Kazmi joined the proceedings and submitted a written reply denying all charges, Mr Qureshi did not turn up before the court.
Following defiance on Mr Qureshi’s part, a larger bench headed by Chief Justice Shah issued non-bailable arrest warrants for him on Aug 21. This sparked a violent protest by the lawyers supporting Mr Qureshi.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2017