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Bar councils’ powers

May 05, 2019

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THE higher-ups have acceded to the protest of the lawyers and reversed their decision to empower police to handle complaints against themselves by themselves and not by the judiciary.

Apparently, it looks like a case of misconduct but in reality it is more than that and relates to the mode of rendering justice to the aggrieved. This precedent also serves as a food for thought for the judicial council and legislature to reform and curtain the powers of the bar councils concerning trial of delinquent or accused advocates on charges of misconduct.

The same principle and rule which was applied in the case of police should be applied to bar councils to ensure justice. The bar councils are elected bodies of lawyers having electoral interest with the lawyer community.

As such it will mostly deny justice to the aggrieved complainants and favour their brethren-in-interest — the voting lawyers. Moreover, the bar usually takes more than a year or two to decide the complaint at the expense and hardship faced by complaint waiting outside in the sun, while the accused advocate enjoys tea and biscuits with the presiding bench in their cool room.

This is unfair and reflects upon the inadequacy of the bar in redressing complaints against lawyers accused of misconduct.

Misconduct is of two types — simple misconduct and gross or criminal misconduct. The police refusing to lodge an FIR took the same stance of misconduct while trying to grab the power of the judiciary to try complaints against them.

Similarly, this principle applies to advocates too. When an advocate commits gross misconduct he actually commits a crime and falls out of the jurisdiction of the bar. In case of criminal misconduct, the matter must be referred to the police and an FIR be registered against lawyer.

The powers of the bars should be reduced and should try cases of simple misconduct. Criminal complaints such as an advocate taking money from a client and vanishing or misappropriating court fees or fees stamp paper handed over to him for filing should be passed over to the police under CrPC.

It is a pity that owing to lawyers cartel no lawyer is willing to take up complainants’ case out of fear of his community. By reducing the bars jurisdiction bases on simple or gross misconduct amounting to crime this cartel too would end.

Unless the powers of bar councils are curtailed the atrocities of advocates in cheating and defrauding or grossly misbehaving and manhandling judges, opposing lawyers and their clients will continue and the judiciary will never be able to improve its image blemished by a bunch of rogue lawyers and their groups.

Mazhar Butt

Karachi

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019