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SCBA threatens courts lockdown over reference

Updated June 04, 2019

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“Instead of traditional protest marches on the Constitution Avenue, this time we will not boycott court proceedings rather protest inside the court premises by locking down the courts,” warned SCBA president Amanullah Kanrani while speaking to the media at the Supreme Court building. — Screengrab via video provided by Haseeb Bhatti
“Instead of traditional protest marches on the Constitution Avenue, this time we will not boycott court proceedings rather protest inside the court premises by locking down the courts,” warned SCBA president Amanullah Kanrani while speaking to the media at the Supreme Court building. — Screengrab via video provided by Haseeb Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Monday upped the ante about the hearing of a reference against a sitting judge of the Supreme Court when it threatened to lock down courts rather than launching a protest campaign similar to the 2007 epic lawyers’ movement.

“Instead of traditional protest marches on the Constitution Avenue, this time we will not boycott court proceedings rather protest inside the court premises by locking down the courts,” warned SCBA president Amanullah Kanrani while speaking to the media at the Supreme Court building.

The threat came a day after spokespersons for the law ministry and the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) of the Prime Minister Office claimed in a joint statement that they had received certified copies from the land registries of the assets owned by judges of the superior courts in the United Kingdom, on the basis of which references were filed in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

They had clarified that the references were filed after duly concurred upon by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor, Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi strictly in terms of the law and the Constitution, particularly under Article 209 of the Constitution.

Kanrani is confident CJP will drop proceedings against Justice Qazi Faez Isa when SJC takes up the matter on June 14

Mr Kanrani warned that the lawyers’ community would burn the reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa inside the Courtroom No 1 if the SJC commenced proceedings against the SC judge on June 14.

On Saturday, the SCBA chief had demanded the impeachment of President Alvi for instituting the reference allegedly with mala fide intention against Justice Isa who “commands highest respect for his unblemished record”. By moving the reference, the government had not done any service to the nation rather scandalised the judge by bringing him into disrepute, he had said, adding that the president had also rendered himself ineligible to occupy the highest office of the country.

On Monday, Mr Kanrani said lawyers were ready to face all kinds of excesses or brutalities and even receive bullets in their chest if the government on June 14 chose to use force against the legal fraternity to prevent them from staging a protest.

“This time the people as well as lawyers will not come on the roads; rather we will drag those on the roads who have trampled the law and Constitution. We need dedicated and committed lawyers who could shed their blood for the cause instead of so-called intellectuals,” he said, adding that the lawyers’ body would not allow the current movement to be hijacked by a few only to get benefit in the shape of elevations as judges to the superior judiciary from their chambers or enhancement of their professional fees like they did in the previous movement. “We will also not accept any decisions dictated on phone calls,” Mr Kanrani said, adding: “We warn the government not to attack the state. We will not allow repeat of the treatment meted out to Fatima Jinnah now to the grandson [Justice Isa] of the former ruler of Kalat. Mr Kanrani was, however, confident that Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa would drop the proceedings against Justice Isa when the SJC would take up the matter on June 14.

He said that the institution of the judiciary itself had tarnished its image among the people of the country on different issues right from the appointment of judges in the superior courts to the proceedings in the SJC, adding that after June 14 “we will institute so many references against the members of the judiciary, highlighting their misconduct that the judiciary will itself find short of judges”.

The SCBA chief regretted that Balochistan was still reeling from the wounds of the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti and Sindh with the judicial murder of a prime minister, and now mistreatment was again being meted out to a judge who belonged to Balochistan. Justice Isa never violated any provisions of the code of conduct for judges, he said, adding that those who openly flouted the same were freely roaming around without any fear.

If the government really wanted the accountability of judges then it should open all 350 cases pending before the SJC, he said.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2019