THE procedure for adjudicating upon misconduct complaints against lawyers is so intricate that it takes years to decide. The proceedings are circuitous. First, the complaint goes to the provincial bar council that take years to pass their orders. Then, it is placed before a tribunal formed to hear appeals. Then, there is the Pakistan Bar Council. If the grievance is not resolved, the concerned party must resort to the Supreme Court for a final decision. This procedure is too lengthy, circuitous and cumbersome — worse than the steps taken in a legal suit.
In banking cases, for example, the law states that cases must be decided within 90 days. Though this usually doesn’t happen, bar councils rules also do not fix any time for deciding on misconduct cases. It is suggested that misconduct cases should be heard summarily within a maximum of 90 days and orders and appeals be finalised within 120 days. Moreover, the definition of misconduct ought to be reconsidered for jurisdictional powers of the bars that should only be empowered to entertain simple misconduct cases while gross/grave or criminal cases against lawyers should be placed under the jurisdiction of criminal laws and crime-fighting authorities.
Due to the cartel of the lawyers, the bars shouldn’t be allowed to take over the powers of the bench. Alternatively all misconduct cases should be heard by a division bench of the high court. Unless obsolete colonial rules are not subjected to reform, redressing misconduct complaints against lawyers stands hardly any chance.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2019