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LAHORE: The legal fraternity on Friday boycotted courts and protested against the conviction of a Jaranwala advocate under anti-terrorism law on charges of injuring a civil judge during open court proceedings by hitting him with a wooden chair.

A general house meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association jointly addressed by representatives of different bar associations and Punjab Bar Council condemned the conviction of Advocate Imran Manj expressing serious reservations over the trial proceedings.

The lawyers questioned registration of the FIR against Manj under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and the manner in which the trial court conducted its whole proceedings.

They said the defence counsel had not been provided an ample opportunity of hearing and the trial court announced its verdict in haste, which was a clear evidence of unfair trial.

The house noted that the Punjab Bar Council had already taken cognizance of the incident, initiated proceedings against the lawyer and also handed him over to the police for legal action. However, it wondered as to how provision of the anti-terrorism law was added in the FIR that led to the unfair trial.

The house demanded of the Lahore High Court chief justice to take notice of the situation and set aside the conviction of Advocate Manj by exercising his powers to review decisions of subordinate courts.

It announced launching massive protests across the province if the demand was not fulfilled by Monday.

An anti-terrorism court on Thursday handed down a collective imprisonment of 18 years under Section 7 of ATA and other provisions of PPC. In a last month incident, the convict had attacked Civil Judge Khalid Mahmood for not extending him favour in a personal criminal case.

The injured judge was shifted to hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, members of the district bar associations of Faisalabad and all tehsils also observed a strike against conviction of the lawyer.

The strike call was given by the Punjab Bar Council in response to a verdict in which the judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court handed down 18-year imprisonment to Imran Manj.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019