ISLAMABAD: A judge from Fatehjang district has invited the attention of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed as well as the chief justice of the Lahore High Court to the harassment of judicial officers at workplace in the lower judiciary due to boorish and rowdy behaviour of lawyers.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Fathejang Dr Sajida Ahmed Chaudhry, who has done her PhD and joined the service as civil judge/judicial magistrate on Feb 22, 2000, regretted in her letter that if she knew she would face disrespect and abuses in the court while sitting as a woman judge by so-called lawyers, she would have not wasted 25 years of her life in pursuing higher education and would have got married like normal Pakistan girls under 20.
“I am very much disappointed and discontented after spending about 21 years of judicial service, the golden period of my youth,” she bemoaned, adding that with such a bright CV (curriculum vitae), she could have opted for any multi-national or of a foreign country, but she chose judiciary since she belongs to a Shuhada family.
Dr Sajida is the same judge who was once posted to Bhakkar, several hundred kilometres away from her family, for attending the maiden address to the Rawalpindi Bar on March 26, 2007, of then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry during the epic lawyers’ movement.
Similar complaint was lodged with former CJ Saqib Nisar by some judges in May 2018
The judge has also dispatched copies of the letter to Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem, the provincial law minister, Supreme Court Bar Association president Abdul Latif Afridi, vice chairmen and presidents of provincial bar councils and bar associations and senior counsel, including Akram Sheikh, Syed Asghar Hussain Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Abid Hassan Minto, Syed Qalbe Hassan, Rasheed A. Razvi, Hamid Khan, Mian Raza Rabbani, Syed Iftikhar Hussain Gillani and Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari.
This is not the first time that the attention of the CJP has been invited. Earlier, on May 22, 2018, some judges belonging to the district courts of Lahore had moved a similar complaint before former CJP Mian Saqib Nisar, cautioning that the entire judicial system might collapse if the rowdy behaviour of lawyers was not discouraged. Then the district courts judges of Lahore had deliberately kept a one-page complaint in Urdu anonymous, requesting the CJP to visit the civil courts at the earliest to have a first-hand glimpse of the pathetic condition in which the judges of the lower judiciary were dispensing justice.
Dr Sajida Chaudhry deplored that if the district judges were supposed to be snubbed, abused, mentally and physically tortured by the lawyers during court hours but their honour and dignity could not be protected by the top judiciary, the district judges are ready to surrender their extra perks like cars, laptops, etc.
“When the male as well as the female judges are harassed at our courts, I feel compelled and frustrated either to burn all my educational degrees one by one in front of the LHC or in front of the Supreme Court so that none of the girls among the 230 million population should dare to come and join judiciary,” she deplored.
“Respect, prestige and sacredness of this prestigious and dignified profession is of no worth,” the letter said.
Dr Sajida highlighted that personal offices of the lawyers were located on a piece of land acquired by the Lahore High Court and even electricity, gas and other amenities were being misused by the district bar associations without payment of any bills under the garb of lawyers. They have been provided with fully equipped IT centres along with brand new desktops by the high court and awarded millions of rupees of grants from the hard-earned money of poor taxpayers, she said.
But in return, she added, the lawyers showed disrespect when they appeared before the presiding officers and abused them verbally as well as physically in the presence of poor litigants and in front of their colleagues.
The judge pleaded before the top judiciary that if stern action against such mighty mafia wearing black coats could not be taken then at least facilities being given to the bar offices should be taken back.
In her letter, she also briefly explained an Oct 8 incident when she was threatened by the representatives of the Lahore Bar Association.
In May 2017, former LHC chief justice Mansoor Ali Shah, who has now been elevated to the Supreme Court as a judge, had also sought cooperation of the lawyers’ apex bodies, including the Pakistan Bar Council, to put their foot down and discourage the malaise of rampant strikes in district bars that had virtually rendered the judiciary dysfunctional. He recalled how litigants had suffered as 600,000 cases could not be taken up because of 948 strikes in just three months from January to March, 2017.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2020