LAHORE: A Lahore High Court larger bench on Thursday took strong exception to undue criticism on the judiciary and the judges giving a strict warning to a lawyer of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) against vlogging on social media.

“It is better for you to quit the vlogging as it does not suit a lawyer,” Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, who headed the bench, cautioned Advocate Azhar Siddique, who represented the PTI in appeals against the orders of two different single benches regarding oath taking of Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz.

Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry, Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh were other members of the five-member bench.

Advocate General of Punjab Ahmad Awais was also present before the court.

LHC larger bench takes exception to vilification of judges

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Sadaqat Khan observed that there had been vlogs by some lawyers against the judges and the judiciary. “Enough is enough. Personal attacks on the judges would not be tolerated anymore,” the judge made it clear to the lawyer.

The judge said the LHC registrar had been directed to monitor social media and take action against delinquents.

He said practicing licence would be suspended forthwith if any lawyer was found doing vlogs or running malicious campaigns against the judges and the courts.

Justice Shahid Jamil Khan also asked the AGP to convey to all the relevant persons to remain careful about the judges and the judiciary.

The bench found various technical deficiencies in the appeals filed by the PTI and directed the counsel to remove the same.

Advocate Siddique said his associates prepared the draft of the appeals.

The bench said it could have dismissed the appeals on technical grounds but wanted to decide the matter on its merits.

The bench observed that there was a constitutional crisis in the country and the court would sort it out.

The bench adjourned further hearing till May 17 and issued a fresh notice to Chief Minister Hamza as no one appeared before the court on his behalf. The bench was told that Advocate Ashtar Ausaf represented Hamza before the single benches, however, he was later appointed attorney general of Pakistan.

The PTI challenged three decisions by two single benches.

The single bench in its April 22 order had ruled that the governor could not refuse oath to a newly-elected chief minister of a province and expected that the president of Pakistan would nominate any person to administer oath to CM-elect Hamza without any delay.

The same bench, in its April 27 order on another petition of Mr Hamza, had advised the Punjab governor to ensure completion of the process of the administration of oath to the CM-elect, either himself or through his nominee within a day. The ICAs filed by over a dozen PTI MPAs, including Sibtain Khan, assailed both decisions of the single bench.

The third order was passed by another single bench on a third petition of Hamza wherein the speaker of the National Assembly was asked to administer oath to the CM-elect.

The appeals argued that the court had no jurisdiction to issue directions to the president of Pakistan and the governor. The appeals also argued that the appellants had not been given an opportunity of hearing by the court, while issuing the impugned orders.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2022

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