SC directs CDA to remove illegal lawyers’ chambers, courtrooms

Published March 3, 2021
Labourers shift furniture of lawyers from their chambers on the football ground in F-8 on Tuesday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Labourers shift furniture of lawyers from their chambers on the football ground in F-8 on Tuesday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

• Islamabad Bar Association counsel gives undertaking to vacate football ground in two months
• IHC suspends licences of 21 lawyers for storming court building on Feb 8

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the nod to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the district administration of Islamabad to remove lawyers’ chambers as well as courtrooms illegally constructed on the football ground in F-8 within two months.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the licences of 21 lawyers who stormed into the Chief Justice Block on Feb 8 after the CDA demolished their illegal chambers.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi, dismissed an appeal filed by the Islamabad Bar Association (IBA) against the Feb 16 decision of the IHC to remove the illegal constructions.

A four-member bench of the IHC, headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah, had directed the CDA to restore the football ground in case the lawyers did not voluntarily vacate it by Feb 28.

During the course of hearing of the appeal before the apex court, Justice Naqvi restrained Hamid Khan Advocate from arguing on behalf of the IBA, saying since he was amicus curiae in the case, he should not argue on behalf of the appellant.

At the outset, the counsel for the IBA gave an undertaking to vacate the football ground in two months.

Subsequently, the apex court held that the CDA and the district administration will be free to demolish all constructions - illegal buildings/structures - on the football ground/park, clear the same and restore it for which the land was meant for.

The court was told that some court structures had also been erected on the football ground/park.

The bench directed the IHC registrar to remove the illegal structures of the courts and submit a report in a week.

Licences of lawyers suspended

A three-member bench of the IHC, comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez, cancelled the licence of 21 lawyers for their alleged involvement in Feb 8 attack on the Chief Justice Block.

The court was hearing a complaint filed by the judicial registrar of the IHC.

The bench observed: “We are, prima-facie, of the opinion that the twenty one respondents arrayed in the complaint in hand had committed grave acts of indiscipline and misconduct on the 8th of February, 2021. In exercise of powers conferred under section 54(1) of the Act of 1973, pending further proceedings, we hereby order suspension of the licenses of the twenty one respondents i.e. Naseer Ahmed Kayani, Tasadduq Hanif, Hammad Saeed Dar, Khalid Mehmood Khan, Ahsan Majeed Gujjar, Akhtar Hussain, Shaista Tabassum, Asad Khan, Faiser Jadoon, Hafiz Malik Mazhar Javed, Khalid Taj, Naveed Hayat Malik, Nazia Abbasi, Nusrat Parveen, Raja Amjad, Raja Khurram Farrukh, Zahid Mehmood Raja, Younas Kayani, Mohammad Umar, Moin Bazai, Pir Fida.”

They were given an opportunity to satisfy this court why complaints may not be referred to Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Islamabad Bar Council (IBC) for disciplinary proceedings, the court order said. As per the complaint, “On the morning of Feb 8 some lawyers were protesting at the district courts against the demolition of chambers by the administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory.”

The chambers were either under construction or had already been built on public streets, car parks and pathways. It was alleged that the demolition was done without notice. The lawyers intended to go to the offices of the capital administration and the CDA to protest.

As reported in the IHC order, “Naseer Kayani, one of the members of the IBC falsely alleged in his provocative speech to the enraged mob of enrolled advocates that the IHC chief justice was responsible for the demolition of the chambers. Naveed Hayat Malik and Zahid Mehmood Raja, who were contesting candidates for the office of the president Islamabad High Court Bar Association and other contesting candidates were also reported to have made provocative speeches to an already enraged mob of enrolled advocates.”

The chief justice was held hostage by a mob of advocates in his chamber for more than four hours, led amongst others by Barrister Tassaduq Hanif, who was also contesting the election for the post of secretary IHBA. Attempts were made to have a sit-in in the chamber of the chief justice.

It may be mentioned that Justice Minallah had written a letter to the PBC and the IBC regarding the incident.

Through letters, both the PBC and the IBC have not only condemned the incident but also asked the IHC to refer a complaint against the involved advocates.

The IHC on Feb 18 and Feb 25 issued notices to the lawyers in order to send complaints to the respective regulatory bodies.

“Before we proceed to send their complaints to the respective regulatory bodies, we are affording them another opportunity to satisfy this court that they had not actively acted, aided or facilitated the grave acts of 8th of February, 2021.”

Out of the 21 lawyers, Khalid Mehmood Khan and Shaista Tabassum have filed replies which the IHC termed unsatisfactory.

Further hearing in the matter was adjourned till March 11.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2021

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