ISLAMABAD, April 10: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday suspended the Punjab Bar Council (PBC)’s orders to cancel the licence of the IHC bar president and dissolve the commission constituted for the bar’s election scheduled to be held on April 14.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued the directives while hearing the petition of the bar president, Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf.
The PBC on April 7 took the action against Mr Ashraf on the complaint of Shireen Bano, a candidate for the post of joint secretary of the IHC bar, that he was allegedly not giving an equal opportunity to her to contest the polls.
Mr Ashraf, who banned the entry of Senator Babar Awan into the premises of IHC in October last year, alleged in the petition that Rana Mohammad Asif Saeed, the chairman of the executive committee, being an aide to Mr Awan, had personal malice against him. He said Mr Awan had appointed him as chief legal adviser in Wapda on a hefty package and he passed the adverse order just to please his “master.”
The petition said the IHC had been established through an act of parliament Mr Ashraf was the first elected president of the bar. It said advocate Bano did not possess the required experience as mentioned in the bar’s constitution due to which her nomination papers had been rejected.
“The matter of her candidacy was also brought into the notice of the Pakistan Bar Council as it was the relevant forum to determine the eligibility of a candidate,” the petition maintained.
It pointed out that PBC dealt with district and subdivisional bar associations and cannot pass an order against the high court of a separate territory.
“The petitioner is an advocate of Supreme Court and Pakistan Bar Council is the only authority that can cancel his licence,” it added.
Advocate Ashraf told Dawn that the orders of the chairman executive committee were politically motivated and came at a time when PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had consented to attend a reception hosted by him in Islamabad on Wednesday. The committee had also asked Mr Sharif not to attend the reception saying he (advocate Ashraf) was no more IHC bar president, he added.
Advocate Shakeel Abbasi, the bar's secretary general and an associate of Senator Awan, however, said the PBC had intervened in the IHC bar’s matter on a written request of a female candidate. According to him, advocate Ashraf invited the PML-N chief in his personal capacity and the office-bearers of the IHC bar would not attend the ceremony.
Earlier, in October last year advocate Abbasi, a pro-government lawyer, had opposed imposition of a ban on the entry of Senator Awan into the court premises and he along with other pro-government lawyers boycotted the meeting in which the proposal for banning the senator was tabled.
The upcoming elections of the IHC bar will also be contested mainly among the pro-government and pro-judiciary lawyers.
Advocate Ashraf, who claimed to be pro-judiciary, had initially decided to contest the elections but later withdrew in support of Sardar Abdul Sami. On the other hand, the supporters of Syed Nayyab Hassan Gardezi also claimed the backing of Chairman Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, Senator Babar Awan and other likeminded groups.
Niazullah Niazi, another candidate, remained the president of Islamabad bar during the restoration of judiciary movement. He belongs to Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and the likeminded group of lawyers. Shafqat Hayyat, the fourth candidate for bar's presidentship, also claimed having support of the PTI.
It may be mentioned that Malik Mazhar Awan, Sajjad Haider Malik and Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan are the three members of the election commission.