Lawyers seek action against members for PIC attack

Updated 17 Dec 2019

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In this file photo, policemen detain a lawyer following a clash between lawyers and doctors in Lahore on December 11. — AFP
In this file photo, policemen detain a lawyer following a clash between lawyers and doctors in Lahore on December 11. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of the tragic Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) incident, a group of 55 senior lawyers on Monday called upon the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) — the mother regulatory body of lawyers — to proceed against delinquent lawyers who violated the law and committed illegal acts.

In an open letter to the PBC, a number of lawyers like Abid Hasan Minto, Makhdoom Ali Khan, Raza Kazim, Tariq Mehmood, Mahmood Awan, Mustafa Ramday and many others from all major cities of Pakistan have asked for proper proceedings after conducting investigations strictly in accordance with the law, without undermining the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the accused or affording them exceptional treatment.

Signed by senior advocates and advocates of the Supreme Court, the two-page letter unequivocally condemned the attack on the PIC by members of the legal fraternity.

“We are anguished because it is inconceivable and unconscionable that those licensed to practise the law and uphold its majesty could choose to attack a hospital irrespective of reasons, provocations or motivations,” the letter said.

In open letter to PBC, they condemn the incident

“As officers of the law, we are obliged to not only do our utmost to respect and strictly abide by the law, but also pursue the legal process in matters of conflict be it personal or institutional,” it said.

“Allowing degeneration of a conflict leading to violence on others, public property and a health care facility can never be justified and is grossly violative of the highest standards to which the profession of law holds its practitioners.

“These actions have sadly brought disrepute to the legal profession as a whole and humiliated the legal fraternity,” the letter regretted, adding: “We believe that the society has conferred great responsibility upon us to act as custodian of rule of law and endowed us with enormous trust by placing on our own shoulders the obligation to regulate ourselves.

“Should we fail to hold ourselves to account for legal misconduct of the members of our fraternity, we will not only be in breach of the law, but we shall more importantly loose the moral right to self-regulate ourselves and irreparably diminish the highest levels of integrity, respect and esteem the profession of law has been held in since time immemorial.”

The letter also expressed anguish over the calls for strikes against court proceedings by bar councils and bar associations, adding that while right to protest was a constitutionally guaranteed right, such right could never be exercised to boycott judicial proceedings in a manner that interfered with judicial business and undermines citizens’ right to access to justice and the strict obligation of lawyers to their clients, to courts and to public at large under the Pakistan Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Rules, 1976.

“We also note with regret that PBC and different bar associations have not condemned this incident in clear and unequivocal terms,” the letter regretted, adding that “we expect that strict disciplinary action will be taken immediately against all licensed lawyers who participated in this unfortunate incident and penalised by PBC as the top regulatory authority of the legal profession for having grossly breached cannons of professional conduct failing”.

“We thus call upon PBC to take affirmative steps to restore the integrity, respect and sanctity of our great profession. The aftermath of the most deplorable PIC attack is a time for introspection and immediate self-accountability,” it said, adding that to restore “honour of our fraternity we must not become apologists for those amongst us misconducting”.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2019