FAISALABAD: After an anti terrorism court handed down 18-year sentence to a lawyer who had injured a civil judge during proceedings of a case in Jaranwala, his colleagues vent their anger by jolting and kicking the main door of the ATC before locking it down forcibly on Thursday.

The ATC judge, Muhammad Khalil Naz, announcing the decision handed down 18-year imprisonment collectively to the accused lawyer, Imran Manj, under section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA), 324 and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

On being informed of the decision, a group of lawyers led by the Faisalabad Bar Association president, Naveed Mukhtar, gathered outside the ATC and chanted slogans against the verdict.

Sensing the situation, the police guards of the court went inside the building and locked it to avoid wrath of the lawyers. However, after kicking and jolting the door the lawyers locked it from outside and returned to the bar.

PbBC to observe strike today

The police had registered a case against the suspect under sections 7 of ATA, and 186, 189, 228, 324, 353 and 427 of the PPC on the complaint of Mohammad Nawaz, the reader of the injured judge, Khalid Mahmood.

The complainant said the judge was hearing a case titled Ayub Khan vs M Anwar, who was father of the accused lawyer, Imran Manj, on April 24 last. The lawyer, he said, had been pressurising the judge for getting a verdict in favour of his father, Mohammad Anwar.

He said as the judge adjourned the case and started the proceeding of the next case, Mr Manj instead of leaving the court, attacked the judge, hitting him with a wooden chair and injuring him.The suspect later fled the scene.

Following the ATC verdict against Mr Manj, about a dozen lawyers also staged a protest demonstration at Jaranwala.

The district bar association also issued a statement asking the court to reverse the verdict, otherwise the legal fraternity would go on strike.

In a statement issued to the media, the bar secretary said: “DBA-FSD [Faisalabad] strongly condemns the illegal, unwarranted, fraudulent, unjustified, cruel and partial decision of conviction in case of Imran Manj, advocate of Jaranwala, by ATC Judge. Lawyers of FSD division hereby announce strike against the decision and if the decision is not declared null and void via suo motu within 24 hours the lawyers of FSD Division will decide future strategy in divisional convention.”

Though the local bar had initially distanced itself from the violent lawyer after the ugly incident, the Faisalabad and tehsil bars on May 15, observed a full day strike against the police for booking Mr Manj under sections 7 of the ATA and 324 of the PPC. The bars demanded a “fair and transparent” trial of Manj, besides deletion of sections 7 of the ATA and 324 of the PPC from the FIR.

However, the police did not remove the sections and submitted the challan in the court, leaving no room for change of investigation or reconciliation between the parties.

A police officer, seeking anonymity, said the arrest of the accused and submission of the challan timely was the prime responsibility of the police after the incident and “we have performed our legal duty”. He said it

was a wrong perception that police had started confrontation with the legal fraternity by bringing a culprit to justice.

Instead of supporting the convicted lawyer, he said the legal fraternity must impart training to the young lawyers that how to behave with the judges in the courts.

Meanwhile, reacting to the ATC verdict, the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) on Thursday announced lawyers strike on Friday (today) all over the province.

The PbBC officials say the council believes that perquisites of justice had not been met in trial of the lawyer who has also been denied fundamental rights.

The council will also adopt legal course to challenge the decision in addition to the protest, they add.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2019

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