Islamabad lawyers demand reconstruction of chambers after wreaking havoc at IHC

Published February 8, 2021
Police officials shield IHC from protesting lawyers. — DawnNewsTV
Police officials shield IHC from protesting lawyers. — DawnNewsTV

After barging into the Islamabad High Court building and rioting outside the chief justice's chambers, lawyers on Monday presented six demands including reconstruction of chambers as well as compensation.

Earlier today, lawyers wreaked havoc on the IHC building as they protested the demolition of their chambers by the Capital Development Authority on Tuesday night.

They barged into the Chief Justice Block, broke windows and shouted slogans against IHC CJ Athar Minallah outside his chamber, trapping him inside. The IHC top judge was inside his chamber at the time, however, special security police troops were not present when the lawyers entered the block and arrived much later.

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After talks with CDA authorities, the lawyers presented six demands which are as follows:

  • Immediate release of arrested lawyers

  • Rebuilding of all chambers that were demolished by the administration

  • Along with rebuilding, administration should pay Rs500,000 per chamber in compensation

  • Transfer of Islamabad district commissioner, concerned superintendent of police and session judge from the capital

  • Until the transfer of district courts, chambers for young lawyers be built on the land of a football ground in Sector F-8

  • Ten acre land be allotted for lawyers' chambers in the area where district courts are transferred.

Additionally, IHC Bar Association President Haseeb Chaudhry said that the lawyers had been summoned by the Chief Justice of Pakistan. He said that both lawyers and administration officials will appear before the CJP.

He further said that all the lawyers who were arrested had been released.

Meanwhile, court officials said that legal proceedings had been suspended until further notice, as per the orders of IHC Chief Justice Minallah.

Protest and rioting

Earlier, as the lawyers' protest grew violent, female employees were evacuated from the block and other IHC judges also arrived at the scene. Rangers and Counter-Terrorism Department officials were also deployed along with police in order to control the situation.

The lawyers also verbally clashed with a Rangers officer, who had arrived with other officials at the court's Chief Justice Block. The official was stopped at the entrance.

Proceedings in district courts as well as in the IHC were suspended and petitioners were stopped from entering the building. The road outside the court was blocked for traffic. The lawyers also misbehaved with journalists who were present on the scene and were recording videos.

"We are trying to get this resolved in half an hour," Islamabad District Commissioner Hamza Shafaat who had arrived at the court said in an informal conversation with journalists. Islamabad police chief Qazi Jamilur Rehman and Interior Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar also arrived at the court's premises.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani and IHC Bar Association President Haseeb Chaudhry urged the rioting lawyers to opt for dialogue.

"Until you people put your stance before us, we will not be able to solve the problem," said Justice Kiyani and invited the lawyers to talk in the bar room.

The lawyers said that they "will not talk until our chambers are restored". They also claimed that some of their colleagues were arrested.

"Write the names of the lawyers who have been arrested, [I'll] order the SP straight away [to release them]," Justice Kiyani assured them. He lamented that lawyers have caused "double trouble" by attacking the high court chief justice's chamber.

"Lawyers have crossed the head of their house, now I will have to placate him as well," he said. "A chief justice is chief justice, you have put his credibility and verdicts at stake."

Haseeb also asked the lawyers to submit their demands and assured them that he would get them fulfilled.

"The damage done to the IHC building today, is my loss," Haseeb said while addressing the lawyers. "If you cause a ruckus like this then don't complain that our president is not with us."

Meanwhile, a notice was issued by IHC Bar Association Secretary Suhail Akbar Chaudhry, announcing a strike and saying that not only will the body protest against the "injustice", it will also take "strict action, if needed".

"All esteemed bar members are informed that Islamabad district administration and CDA have cruelly taken down chambers of young lawyers," the notice read. "The Islamabad High Court Bar Association will not remain quiet on this cruelty and injustice and will not only protest against [it] on every forum but will take strict action if needed.

"In this regard, the IHCBA is going on a strike. Young lawyers should be compensated for their loss and no lawyer will appear in any IHC bench; strict action will be taken against lawyers who appear [in courts]."

Addressing lawyers in Quaid-i-Azam hall, Justice Kiyani said that members of the legal fraternity who were gathered outside the CJ's chamber should return.

"Until they leave [his chamber], the chief justice cannot come here."

He added: "Your problem was [related to] four to five chambers which could have been solved through dialogue. [We] said this earlier as well that the problem should be solved by sitting together with the CDA chairman."

Justice Kiyani told the IHCBA president and secretary to "cooperate" and convince the lawyers to gather in the hall for a dialogue. The judge also ordered the senior superintendent of police to release all lawyers and others who had been arrested, on the protesters' demand.

He asked the lawyers why they damaged the chief justice's chamber.

"You didn't damage the district commissioner's office or a police station," he noted. "You had to tell the chief justice but if you tell [him] after causing a ruckus, how will the matter be resolved?

"The chief justice is your strength, what you did in his office had no excuse."

He also promised that he will summon the deputy commissioner and ask who gave the orders to pull down the chambers that were destroyed wrongfully. At the same time, however, the judge said that "illegal chambers should not have been built in front of the court" building.

"I'm not defending this act of the administration but chambers should not have been built in front of courts," he said.

Justice Kiyani pointed out that the chief justice had not "said a word" despite the lawyers' behaviour. He said that elements who are "against the judiciary and lawyers will take advantage of this" and urged the lawyers to "not make matters worse".

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