The Struggle for Rule of Law(yers)

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A few days ago Chief Justice (CJ) of the Lahore High Court (LHC) suspended the license of an advocate in accordance with section 54 of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973 (LPBCA). Said suspension, and subsequent complaint to the Punjab Bar Council (PBC) was the result of an altercation between an additional sessions judge and an advocate, which was reported to LHC by the Sessions Judge. The lawyers community – a portion thereof – protested against this “illegal” act of the CJ LHC and has now demanded his resignation.

This is truly a defining moment for the lawyers of Pakistan, who were only 9 years ago fighting, struggling and “sacrificing” their all for the independence of judiciary, just as political parties have “struggled” and “sacrificed” for democracy. If we don’t stand up for what is “right”, we will lose the fight, the battle and the war for (against) “rule of law” in Pakistan.

The lawyers – a portion thereof – demanded that the CJ LHC resign, the supervisory committee of the LHC be dissolved and Section 54 of the LPBCA be repealed thereby ridding the Supreme Court and High Courts of their power to suspend an advocate’s license. Why should the superior judiciary have any control over the conduct of lawyers? The Bar councils – composed of elected members who are indebted to the lawyers for their current offices and dependent upon them for any future office they may hope to be elected to – are sufficient to decide upon any matter relating to an advocate’s conduct. The members of a bar council have no reason to be biased or tilted in favor of any advocate regardless of his political weight. Does anyone doubt a bar council’s ability to act against an advocate even if he commands hundreds of votes and can make or break any bar’s election? This would be like doubting Trump’s sanity, Zardari’s integrity and Fazl ur Rehman’s feminism.

The honorable advocate had only innocently snatched a case file from an additional sessions judge to write upon it an order of his choosing. Was this unethical? Yes. Illegal? May be. Necessary? Of course. Who knows the law better than a lawyer? In fact once these demands are met, the next phase should begin; with new demands which should include; amending the Criminal Procedure and Civil Procedure Codes to empower advocates to decide their own cases. Once the CPC and CRPC have been duly amended, the lawyers – a portion thereof – should then struggle for the establishment of a lawyers supervisory committee to oversee conduct of the judges and to hear and decide complaints against them.

This is not just a fight for personal interests, vengeance or justice, this is a struggle for the Rule of Law(yers). The fight should go on till the last drop of our blood, the last shred of sanity and laying of the last brick in the tall tower of idiocy. Zinda hain wukla (The lawyers are alive), the law? not so much.

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