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IHC Chief Justice pens heartfelt letter to Bar Associations

While reminding the moral and ethical duty of the legal profession, the judge said, “It is the duty of every enrolled advocate to become a role model for others in the society.”

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On Thursday, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice, Athar Minallah, in an unprecedented move, wrote a letter to the vice chairmen of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Islamabad Bar Council (IBC) calling for stern action by the regulatory bodies against the lawyers that vandalized the IHC building on February 8.

Copies of the letter were also sent to President, Supreme Court Bar Association, Members of PBC, IBC, Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) and Islamabad District Bar Association (IDBA), and bar rooms of IHC and IDB.

Under the title of “Images of the vandalized chambers of the Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court” sixteen pictures were attached at the end of the letter showing damaged LCDs, plants, windows, blinds, furniture, ACs and doors.

In an heartfelt tone, he drew the attention of the lawyers’ regulatory bodies towards the grave misconduct of a handful of enrolled advocates who stormed the IHC and threatened the Hon’ble judges, while in uniform of the “most noble professions that ensures fundamental rights of the people”.

“I could not have even remotely suspected that enrolled advocates dressed in uniform would take law into their hands, let alone resorting to violence, vandalism and obstruction to justice,” he said.

The IHC judge went on to remind that “They were the same lawyers who had marched across the country during the historic lawyers’ movement to establish rule of law and restore the Constitution.”

The fateful day

The IHC Chief Justice, who was conducting judicial proceedings on the fateful day, received a note from the IHC Registrar that around 100-150 lawyers had left the District Courts in F-8 and are currently on their way towards the High Court.

He was told that the lawyers were agitated and enraged because of the demolition of their chambers by the Capital Development Authority.

Mr Athar Minallah said that by any stretch of his imagination he didn’t apprehend a likely law and order situation and the “shocking display of travesty of dignity of one of the noblest professions.”

“The enraged mob, all dressed in uniform, rushed towards me raising slogans and shouting at the top of their voices,” he detailed.

Read more: IHC issues contempt notices to rogue lawyers: Will they ever be convicted?

But even then, the Hon’ble judge didn’t seek protection of the police officials, including the Senior Superintendent of Islamabad Police (SSP) as he felt that seeking protection of police officials from being harmed by the acts of enrolled advocates was an affront to the office he holds.

Narrating his plight, he said he was forced by the unruly violent mob to go to the Bar room, upon which he resisted.

The Hon’ble judges of the Islamabad High Court were confined to their chambers for many hours and the judicial proceedings couldn’t be carried out on the day.

While mentioning the action being planned by the LEAs to clear the constitutional court of the miscreant lawyers and clear the passage for the Hon’ble judges safe exit.

He said: “I refused (the police operation) because it could have reduced a constitutional court to a battleground and undermined the prestige and sanctity of a hallowed institution where justice was dispensed to all and sundry.”

1997 storming of Supreme Court

Chief Justice Athar Minallah while drawing a comparison with the storming of the Supreme Court in 1997 said that the February 8 incident was even “more grave in nature.”

The Supreme Court of Pakistan was stormed by unruly lawmakers belonging to the Parliament who belonged to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

While regretting the incident, the IHC Judge said, “This incident involved enrolled advocates, the guardians of the rule of law and upholders of the dignity of the noble profession of law” and that “They were involved in desecrating their own alma mater by displaying shockingly violent and intolerable behavior and misconduct.”

Trust & confidence reposed in Bar Councils

The Chief Justice expressed faith in the ability of the legal regulatory framework, which includes Pakistan Bar Council and Islamabad Bar Council “to uphold the dignity of the profession and restore the confidence of the real stakeholders i.e., the people of Pakistan, in the judicial branch of the State.”

Read more: Lawyers attacked PIC: Terror & violence took three lives in Lahore?

He made it quite clear to the regulatory bodies that no way could the miscreant lawyers who had brought disrepute to the entire fraternity could escape accountability.

While reminding the moral and ethical duty of the legal profession, the judge said, “It is the duty of every enrolled advocate to become a role model for others in the society.” He however expected the Bar Councils to follow such standards of accountability that would become a lesson for all legal professionals – that what will be the consequences if they ever breached the code of conduct.

“The dignity and sanctity of the elevated legal profession depends on the enforcement of the regulatory framework by the Pakistan Bar Council and Islamabad Bar Council, as the case may be,” he said.

Concluding the letter on an hopeful note, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said, “I am hopeful that the Pakistan Bar Council  or the Islamabad Bar Council, as the case may be, will discharge their obligations as conscientious regulators by promptly and demonstrably showing resolve to hold every enrolled advocate accountable who was involved or had aided or facilitated the storming of the Islamabad High Court and/or committed or aided or felicitated the commission of the aforementioned acts thus bringing disrepute and shaking public faith in members of the legal fraternity being foremost guardians of rule of law in the society.”

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