- Another unfortunate instance of lawyer’s lawlessness
Massive street agitation of the legal fraternity started with the movement to restore former chief justice Ifthikar Chaudhry, sacked by president Pervez Musharraf on March 9, 2007. It lasted till March 21, 2009, when the CJP was reinstated, but the volatile event left serious collateral damage, whose negative impact is felt to this day in acts committed by headstrong lawyers. Imbued with a militant mindset after two years of bloody protests, burning effigies and street fighting, and flushed with success, they increasingly started taking matters into their own hands, resorting to rowdy behaviour, rampaging in newly-built judicial complexes, showing blatant disobedience of the Bench and indulging in assaults on police. In some brazen incidents, lawyers abetted the escape of clients who had just been remanded in court.
The legal profession has seemingly reached saturation point, with private colleges churning out a torrent of ‘law’ graduates, no doubt competent, but also endowed with an alarming tendency to resort to fisticuffs on the slightest pretext. It would seem that some people are learning the law only to break it. The situation is exacerbated by politicisation of Bars, buying them out with hefty government ‘grants’, and by lack of role models among senior counsel, who mercenary-like, ignore conflict of interest and ethical aspects of their cases.
A social media video showing not-so-law abiding lawyers in Lahore thrashing and allegedly detaining a police official, who has since lodged an FIR against 17 assailants, attracted the suo moto attention of CJP Saqib Nisar, who set case hearing for October 13, to be attended by Punjab Police IG, with report of the incident, as well as office bearers of Pakistan and Lahore Bar Council/ Association. In an unfortunate reaction, the Lahore Bar Association lawyers partly shut down sessions courts on Monday, demanded removal of the premises’ tell-tale CCTV cameras and release of the arrested lawyers, vowing to hold their next general house meeting on October 13 in the Supreme Court. Senior Bar officials must step in and end once for all this provocative and irresponsible disrespect of the apex court, which brings the entire criminal justice system into disrepute. The repeated violent outbursts of hotheads in legal garb must end.