LAHORE: The legal fraternity on Friday boycotted courts across the country against the arrest of lawyers in the wake of the attack on Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), while senior leaders of the bar demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.
On the other hand, strict security arrangements were made at the Lahore High Court besides deployment of Rangers outside the premises to deal with any violent protest by the lawyers. The chief justice block was also cordoned off by anti-riot police.
Majority of the lawyers abstained from pleading cases before courts and joined meetings and gatherings to express their anger at the arrest of their colleagues. They also demanded immediate release of those arrested.
A Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising elected leaders of various bars had given a call for a countrywide strike.
At a press conference at the Lahore registry of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), several senior bar figures termed the attack on the PIC a national tragedy and called for a judicial inquiry into it. SCBA’s former presidents Hamid Khan, retired justice Malik Muhammad Qayyum, Mian Israrul Haq and Pir Kaleem Khurshid, sitting Secretary Shamimur Rehman Malik, Lahore High Court Bar Association former presidents Shafqat Mahmood Chohan and Rana Zia Abdul Rehman were among those who spoke.
ATC grants three-day physical remand of eight suspects
Hamid Khan said the bar was deeply disturbed over the unfortunate incident and regretted the death of patients at the PIC. However, he said, the bar was of the view that the lawyers alone were not responsible for the incident, adding that the doctors and paramedical staff were equally to blame.
He further said the prime responsibility for the incident lied squarely on the government for its failure to act in time and negligence in resolving the matter despite passage of two weeks since an incident wherein doctors had allegedly manhandled lawyers inside the cardiology institute.
Mr Qayyum said a fair and impartial judicial inquiry should be conducted into the entire episode starting from the assault on lawyers by the doctors and paramedical staff so that the responsible could be brought to justice.
Other speakers also apologised to the families who lost their loved ones during the incident. They condemned the role of the government and said the legal fraternity throughout the country stood united and will always be a bulwark against dictatorship and attempts to curtail people’s basic rights.
They alleged that the arrested lawyers had been severely tortured by police during custody and demanded the provincial government order their release in addition to deletion of Section 7 of the ATA from the cases. They also appealed to the media to practice balanced reporting of the situation and avoid one-sided versions against lawyers.
REMAND: An anti-terrorism court on Friday granted three-day physical remand of eight suspects to the Shadman police. Police presented the suspects before the court in handcuffs with their faces covered.
Appearing on behalf of the bar, Advocate Ghulam Murtaza Chaudhry claimed before the court that none of the suspects presented by the police were lawyers. He claimed that one of the lawyers arrested by police was pleading a case in a sessions court of Khushab.
However, the court granted three-day physical remand of the suspects, including Badar Jamal, Rajab Sharif, Tahir Mehmood, Muhammad Usman, Shahzad Abdul Haq, Shahid Javed, Bashir Ahmad and Qamar Shahid, for holding of a photogrammetric test.
The court directed police to produce them again on Dec 16.
Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2019