LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday sent over 40 lawyers on judicial remand turning down a request of police for their physical remand to investigate charges of attacking the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC).

The police produced the arrested lawyers with covered faces under strict security before the court. Shadman police had lodged two FIRs against over 250 with arrest of 46 lawyers. Some women lawyers arrested at the scene were already released by the police.

The FIRs were registered under sections 148, 186, 290, 291, 324, 353 and 436 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in addition to section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

The investigating officer submitted record of the cases to the court and sought physical remand of the lawyers.

JAC meeting with LHC chief justice-designate ‘remains inconclusive’

Advocate Ghulam Mustafa appeared on behalf of the lawyers and opposed the remand. He also asked the court to order medical examination of the lawyers as they had been tortured in police custody.

ATC Judge Abdul Qayyum Khan observed that the suspects were nominated in the FIRs but no specific role had been attributed to them. He said it had not been mentioned in the FIRs that as to who was actually having any weapon of offence.

“Hence, there is no justification to grant physical remand of the accused. Request of the investigating officer is turned down,” the judge said in the order.

The judge directed the IO to get the suspects medically examined before sending them on judicial remand. The judge also allowed the IO to hold identification parade within six days only. The IO further directed to submit challan of the cases under section 173 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) within the stipulated time period.

The suspects include Adnan Bhatti, Basharat Abbas, Sajjad Rasheed, Muhammad Imran, Muhammad Azeem, Syed Zeeshan Ali, Mudassar Rasheed, Malik Muhammad Arshad, Junaid Arshad, Rana Islam, Muhammad Asad Suleman, Imran Naeem, Arshad Walayat, Ali Imran, Hassan Mirza, Hafiz Umair, Faheem Shaukat, Sheikh Irfan, Ali Bin Khalid, Asad Zafar, Malik Farooq, Hafiz Tanveer, Dilawar, Ghayas Ahmad, Arsalan Raza, Turab Warraich, Mattiur Rehman, Rana Kausar, Sajid Hussain, Maqsood Ahmad, Hassan Ali, Hafiz Muhammad Shakil, Tayyab Rasool, Ali Raza, Umar Ghaffar, Waqas Ali, Fahad Sultan, Muhammad Shahbaz, Shehroze, Rana Muhammad Aslam and Asad Salman.

Earlier, the legal fraternity observed a full day boycott leading to adjournment in a large number of cases fixed before the Lahore High Court and district courts.

A joint meeting of the Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar Association, Punjab Bar Council, Lahore High Court Bar Association, Lahore Bar Association and Lahore Tax Bar Association was also held in the high court bar.

The meeting condemned the attack on the PIC by a group of lawyers and observed that a disciplinary action would be taken against the perpetrators if found members of any of the bar.

However, it also condemned the conduct of doctors and a leader of Young Doctors Association namely Muhammad Irfan, which it claimed, played a key role in provoking the young lawyers.

The leaders at the meeting demanded immediate release of the arrested lawyers and withdrawal of the FIRs, which they said, were fabricated.

A Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising elected leaders of lawyers was also constituted at the meeting with a mandate to hold a dialogue with the government and others. The JAC also held a meeting with LHC Chief Justice-designate Mamoon Rashid Sheikh for the resolution of the matter. However, as per the sources, the meeting remained unfruitful.

At a press conference by JAC members in the evening, PBC senior member Ahsan Bhoon announced a full day strike across the country on Friday (today). He said the protests would continue till the release of all arrested lawyers.

He regretted that several meetings were held with the LHC chief justice-designate but all in vain. He said the lawyers would not go to any chief justice anymore but adopt legal course of action.

Mr Bhoon said elders of the bar had already condemned the PIC incident but some elements had been trying to aggravate the situation.

The JAC also condemned suspension of licence of Islamabad High Court Bar Secretary Umair Baloch and issuance of a contempt notice to him by the IHC chief justice.

The LHC will also take up on Friday (today) a petition by the LHCBA against the arrest of the lawyers.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2019