ISLAMABAD: Three newly-appointed judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday took oath of their offices while lawyers’ representative bodies staged a protest in the IHC building.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah administered oath to Fiaz Ahmed Anjum Jandran, Ghulam Azam Qambrani and Lubna Saleem Pervez.
Senior Puisne Judge Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb attended the oath-taking ceremony.
The other participants included senior lawyers, law officers of the federal government and staff of the IHC.
On the other hand, IHC Bar Association (IHCBA) suspended membership of 60 lawyers for attending the oath-taking ceremony.
They included additional attorney general Tariq Mehmood Khokhar, deputy attorney general Raja Khalid Mehmood Khan, deputy attorney general Syed Mohammad Tayyab and advocates Arafat Ahmed, Kashifa Niaz and Zainab.
The IHCBA had announced to boycott the oath-taking ceremony over the IHC chief justice’s decision to suspend the practicing licence of its secretary Umair Baloch on Thursday. The IHC chief justice had also directed the registrar office to issue him a show-cause notice under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.
Some lawyers had suggested disrupting the oath-taking ceremony but IHCBA President Raja Inam Ameen Minhas rejected the proposal.
He said the bar association would neither obstruct the ceremony nor stage any protest on roads. He, however, said it was the right of the lawyers to express their reservations for which bar rooms were the proper forum.
Later, the lawyers assembled in the bar room where Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah, Islamabad Bar Council (IBC) vice chairman Haroon Rashid and the IHCBA president criticised the suspension of Mr Baloch’s licence.
They also planned to assemble on Dec 19 when Mr Baloch will appear in person in the court to respond to the show-cause notice.
Meanwhile, the IHC registrar office issued the show-cause notice to Mr Baloch.
It said the secretary IHCBA “interfered with the proceedings of court by trying to pressure and force the learned advocates who were in attendance to leave the court so that strike could be observed.”
It added that Mr Baloch addressed the court in a tone not expected from a professional lawyer and he insisted that the court should encourage the strike call. Advocates present in the courtroom advised him to maintain decorum of the court and eventually took him out of the courtroom.
Even outside the courtroom, Mr Baloch forced other advocates not to attend proceedings and his “disruptive conduct led to rising of the court”.
It said: “As an advocate and particularly holding the post of secretary of Islamabad High Court Bar Association you preferred to violate your duty to uphold the dignity and high standing of the noble profession as well as your own dignity and high standing as a member of the Bar.”
The show-cause notice said the act and conduct of Mr Baloch “amounted [to] violating the right of access to justice of litigants” and he “intended to undermine the authority of the court and to bring the administration of law into disrepute”.
It added: “Your acts and conduct constitute the offence of criminal contempt in the face of the court.”
The show-cause notice asked Mr Baloch to “explain in writing within four days why you should not be punished under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.”
Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2019