Punjab bar, LHCBA back capital lawyers over issue of demolition

Published February 10, 2021
This file photo shows lawyers pictured at the debris of their demolished chambers  on Monday.—Mohammad Asim / White Star
This file photo shows lawyers pictured at the debris of their demolished chambers on Monday.—Mohammad Asim / White Star

LAHORE: The Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) and Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) on Tuesday expressed support for the stance of Islamabad’s lawyers protesting against the demolition of their chambers by the capital administration.

In separate statements issued on behalf of PbBC vice chairman Sardar Abdul Basit, LHCBA president Tahir Nasaraullah Warraich and other office-bearers, the two bodies said the chambers of the lawyers bulldozed in Islamabad had been built five years ago. They demanded the government reconstruct the demolished chambers of the lawyers and take action against the officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) involved in the ‘illegal’ operation.

They also demanded withdrawal of the FIRs registered against the lawyers and transfer of Islamabad’s deputy commissioner Hamza Shafqaat. The lawyers also announced plans to hold protests across the province if their demands were not met.

According to the security official in charge at the IHC, Inspector Mohammad Hayat lodged the FIR under Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-terrorism Act with the Ramna police station, nominating Tassaduq Hussain, Shehla Khan, Hammad, Umar Siyyam, Ahsan Majeed, Khalid Mehmood, Shaista Tabassum, Yasir Khan, Naheed advocate, Tashfeen, Raja Farrukh, Naseer Kiyani, Arbab Ayub Gujjar, Raja Zahid, Nusrat Perveen, Liaquat Manzoor, Naveed Malik, Asif Gujjar and others for storming into the IHC, damaging property and injuring officials on duty.

Earlier, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) condemned the demolition of lawyers’ chambers by CDA’s enforcement wing. “The events that led to today’s incident were very regrettable and necessitate for thorough probe and investigation as such; SCBAP hereby demands a high-powered Judicial Commission constituted by Honourable Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan so that those found responsible must be brought to book quickly,” the SCBA said.

Also, the Islamabad High Court Bar Association and the District Bar Association, in a joint statement, regretted the closure of courts and requested the Supreme Court chief justice to hold a judicial inquiry into the matter.

It was late Sunday night when the district administration, Capital Development Authority (CDA) as well as local police had launched an anti-encroachment operation in the surroundings of the district courts in Islamabad’s Sector F-8.

Dozens of illegally-constructed offices of the lawyers were demolished and around 10 lawyers were taken into custody for putting up resistance against the drive. In response to the operation, some 400 lawyers gathered in the district courts on Monday morning. Later they left for the Islamabad High Court in a convoy of 100 cars, reaching the court without any hindrance. The lawyers stormed into the chamber of the IHC chief justice and damaged the property. They broke windows with flower pots and also abused the judges. The protesters manhandled the staff and even beat up the superintendent of police deployed at the Chief Justice Block. They forcibly stopped media from covering the unruly protest and also manhandled some journalists.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah as well as other IHC judges tried to calm them down but to no avail, as the protesters continued the siege of the Chief Justice Block until the Rangers as well as police reinforcement took control of the premises.

The elected lawyers’ representatives held a session with the judges and tabled a charter of demands to end the standoff.

According to the demands, they sought reconstruction of the demolished chambers on state’s expense, removal of deputy commissioner and release of lawyers detained in the overnight operation. They also wanted the chief justice to announce acceptance of the demands before the lawyers in the bar room.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2021

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