ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court office has returned a petition moved to seek an order for the establishment of the Lahore High Court’s new benches in some major cities of Punjab. The registrar office did not entertain the petition on the grounds that the petitioner had not approached any other appropriate forum available to him under the law and he also failed to justify directly approaching the apex court.
The petition was moved by a senior member of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Raheel Kamran Sheikh, for the establishment of new benches of the LHC in cities like Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sargodha and Sahiwal.
Moved in December last year against the backdrop of protests by the lawyers community for over a month, the Supreme Court was approached to immediately intervene for the resolution of persistent boycotts by lawyers in these cities.
Members of different district bar associations were on strike and members of the legal fraternity were not appearing in the courts of their respective divisions — a practice which is severely affecting dispensation of justice.
Even some elements in the bar resorted to violent protests against the refusal to establish new benches in these cities. They even threatened district administrations, damaging property and locking up court rooms, the petition said. Footage of such ugly violent demonstrations has been widely broadcast and is also available on social media, the petition argues, adding now the Punjab Bar Council has joined these protests by announcing strike in their support and calling upon lawyers of the province to refuse to appear in courts to show their solidarity and support.
At the heart of the protest is the LHC’s full court meeting of July 2016 which had unanimously rejected the demand for the establishment of new additional benches in these cities.
The petition before the Supreme Court pleaded that as a result of the deadlock, the enforcement of fundamental rights of ordinary citizens was being paralysed and every civilised notion of the rule of law was facing threat of annihilation.
And if the Supreme Court does not intervene at this juncture, in exercise of powers conferred upon it by Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the loss may become irreparable and irreversible and may lead to aggravated use of violent means at the hands of the protesting lawyers or law enforcement agencies.
The petitioner intends to challenge the registrar office’s decision before the apex court.
Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2019