'Cold war' with bar costs bench its popularity
07 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Although lawyers had played a historical role regarding the restoration of judiciary and gave many sacrifices to achieve their objective but now the superior judiciary, especially Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, is losing popularity in the superiors' bars.
Legal experts say that the cold war between bar and bench has continued for the last two years over the appointment of superior courts' judges but after the Supreme Court's July 24 order for changing the presidential election's schedule, confrontation between them has intensified as the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) is going front foot against the chief justice of Pakistan and some other judges.
A general body meeting of the LHCBA adopted a resolution on July 30 demanding presidential references against CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed for their alleged violation of the constitution in their judgement on the election of the president. Likewise, when the CJP arrived in Quetta on Monday, a complete boycott was observed in all courts of Balochistan against the Judicial Commission of Pakistan's decision to appoint three additional judges in the Balochistan High Court and rejected the lawyers' objections over them.
It has also been noticed that a large number of pro-judges group's lawyers are also opposing the Supreme Court's decision to initiate contempt of court proceedings against PTI Chairman Imran Khan because PTI Vice Chairman Hamid Khan is heading this lawyers group (pro-judges' group) since the start of lawyers movement.
It has also been learnt that an important meeting of Pakistan Bar Council's executive committee is being held at Lahore today (Wednesday) to discuss the emerging situation, which had come after the Supreme Court's decision about the presidential elections. According to the sources, being an apex body of lawyers the PBC will also express it concern over the conduct of incumbent superior judiciary and will pass a resolution in this regard.
The sources said that bars would also resist any move about giving service extension to the CJP. Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Syed Qalb-e-Hassan has already urged the Supreme Court to dispel a general perception of discriminatory dispensation of justice by the superior courts occasionally.
"I say this because often the bench (judges) hears the media din rather than the clear messages emanating from the bars. History has proved that while notorious judgements of the past were being hailed as historic, it was only the bars which warned that the judgements like Moulvi Tamizuddin, Dosso, Nusrat Bhutto and Zafar Ali Shah will be poorly judged by history itself," he observed.
He also expressed concern over the judges' remarks during the hearing of high profile cases and said that written judgements, rather than oral observations, form the core of legal jurisprudence, adding that in the long-term, oral words die out but the written law through judgements will become our legacy. On the other hand, in prevailing circumstances, Rawalpindi Bar Association, which is known as the loyalist bar of the incumbent judiciary, is aggressively defending the superior judiciary.
President of LHC bar of Rawalpindi division Taufiq Asif and district bar Rawalpindi President Israrul Haq have disowned the resolution adopted by the LHCBA. Likewise, pro-judges' lawyers group is also still dominant in the Sindh Bar Council.
Legal experts say that former law minister Babar Awan had played an important role in strengthening the anti-judges lawyers group across the country as he had distributed millions of rupees in funds for the bar associations. But later on, Babar Awan's practicing licence was suspended for using objectionable words for the judiciary and his unconditional apology was also not accepted by the apex court.
Senior lawyers like Aitzaz Ahsen, Tariq Mahmood, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Latif Afridi, Asma Jahangir, etc, who played a significant role in the restoration of judiciary, are also questioning the present judicial activism and they have recommended the superior courts adopt the policy of judicial restraint.
While talking PBC executive member Ramzan Chaudhry said that the superior bars always demanded that superior judiciary should not interfere in political affairs.
He also stated that lawyers believed that the superior courts were overusing the suo motu powers because it was affecting the right of appeal to the people. "We also think that the judiciary is also overusing its power of contempt of court", PBC executive member also said.
PBC executive member says that judges should themselves think why political parties, lawyers and media persons were raising fingers against their incumbent role.