LAHORE: The Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) on Friday announced a strike in the province to protest conviction of a lawyer by the Lahore High Court senior puisne judge under contempt of court charge for not wearing a gown while appearing in his court.

Advocate Rana Muhammad Asif, also a member of the PbBC, wore his black gown, an essential part of the uniform for judges and lawyers during winter, inside the courtroom when Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan told the lawyer that he should have worn the gown before entering the courtroom. Offended, the lawyer responded to the judge in harsh words.

The judge ordered his security staff to take the lawyer in custody and also issued him a show-cause notice under contempt charge.

The advocate tendered an unconditional apology but the judge turned it down, asking him to submit a written reply to the show cause notice and adjourned the hearing.

Bar to observe strike today

The lawyer was made to sit in the court for hours until several elected representatives of the bar and lawyers reached the court and took him out. The lawyers also expelled the police personnel from the court and chanted slogans against the court action.

Later, Justice Khan announced a verdict and sentenced the lawyer to three months in jail on contempt of court charge.

Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti constituted a division bench comprising Justice Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal and Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabbir to hear an appeal of the lawyer against the single judge decision.

However, the judges recused themselves from the matter and sent the case file back to the chief justice for its hearing before any other appropriate bench.

A press release issued by the PbBC said the action against the lawyer was condemnable and unconstitutional. It demanded the high court to immediately withdraw the decision.

The bar also announced to observe a strike on Saturday (today) in the province and also convened a general house meeting to chalk out further line of action.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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