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LAHORE: Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) general house on Thursday passed a resolution demanding that a full bench of the Supreme Court should devise rules on suo motu powers.

The resolution adopted by the house was moved by Advocate Syed Tanvir Hashmi, father of Shah Hussain, who had been acquitted in Khadija Siddiqui’s stabbing case by the Lahore High Court. Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had taken suo motu notice of the acquittal.

LHCBA president Anwarul Haq Pannu and many senior lawyers, including Ahmad Awais, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari, Ehsan Wayn and Zahid Hussain Bokhari addressed the general house.

They said rules should be made on Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, which empowered the Supreme Court to enforce fundamental rights.

Referring to suo motu notice taken by the CJP in Khadija Siddiqui’s case, they said it did not qualify for suo motu as the aggrieved party had a legitimate right to file an appeal against the acquittal verdict.

They said all the suo motu notices taken by the Supreme Court would be deemed unconstitutional if violation of fundamental rights was not found in them.

Mr Pannu clarified that the general house meeting of the bar was not convened to discuss Khadija Siddiqui’s case only but it was one of the reasons.

He said the meeting was held to discuss the suo motu powers of the Supreme Court.

He said the Supreme Court should make rules for suo motu actions and these notices should not be taken in those cases where parties had legal right to appeal. He also condemned criticisms of court decisions on television shows without going through the verdicts. He said the undue criticism amounted to putting pressure on the courts.

In a response to repeated claim of CJP Nisar that lawyers were his “soldiers”, Mr Pannu said, “The lawyers are officers of the courts not soldiers of anyone.” The lawyers would continue to support the judiciary till it worked under the Constitution, he added.

He said the bar would make its representation before the Supreme Court during hearing of the Khadija Siddiqui’s suo motu on June 10 at the Lahore registry.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2018