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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Violence in the Courts: How can the Academy be helpful?

The way lawyers have acted in recent events is alarming as not only does that demean the justice system, it gives the wrong expression that having the knowledge about law gives the edge to these people to become a vigilante.

Farah Adeed |

On April 25, a local lawyer attacked Senior Civil Judge Khalid Mehmood in Jaranwala, an underdeveloped Tehsil of Faisalabad, with a chair and busted his head wide open. On April 8, lawyers thrashed a warden and an assistant warden for trying to issue them a challan over the violation of traffic rules on Jail Road in Lahore. On August 21, 2017, angry lawyers broke down the main entrance gate of the court and went to Mall Road forming a protest demonstration after a five-member bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered to arrest Sher Zaman Qureshi, President High Court Bar Multan, in contempt of court case. There are many cases and incidents which can be mentioned here to highlight the extent, scope, and dynamics of violence and hooliganism perpetuated by the lawyers, a community supposed to protect and safeguard every word of the constitution.

It is important to expose the role of goons wearing a black coat and tie to be treated as lawyers but largely demeaning not only justice system of Pakistan but overall order in the society.

A few days ago, a senior judge from district judiciary shared some very disturbing facts with me. While discussing the reasons behind unnecessary delays in criminal cases which have the potential to trigger more violence if aggrieved parties are not served with justice in due time, the judge was very careful about his words and expression but clearly stated that ‘the main obstacle to providing speedy justice to the masses throughout my career has been the presence of some unruly and stubborn lawyers’.

Read more: Pakistan’s lax justice system and millions of pending cases

After conducting a little research and discussions with some friends from the legal community, I have found two different definitions of what it means to be a lawyer. How a man or woman having an LLB degree shall behave depends entirely upon what sort of definition of the term he/she subscribes to.

For a tiny minority, a lawyer is a person who has studied law and legal philosophy and voluntarily decided to join a profession which seeks to ensure the provision of justice to everybody in order to maintain peace and order of the society. I would prefer to term this group as the guardian of the law. The primary duty of a lawyer is to play a role of a facilitator in the legal process to make sure that ‘justice is not only being done but also seen while being done’. These people also believe that ‘charity begins at home’ and present themselves before the law to demonstrate that everyone is equal before the law.

Unfortunately, for a majority of law graduates, the definition is completely opposite. It is firmly believed that after earning a bachelor degree in law and practicing for a few months in a lower or high court gives an unconditional letter to carry out ‘every and any’ activity which is not in the best interest of the lawyer. Even if the due process of law and legal principles are not serving the intended objectives of a person having an office and wearing a black coat and tie should immediately be bridged or renewed.  The law is considered nothing but only a shield which must be helpful if a lawyer decides to beat a judge, a traffic warden or a witness in an open court.

Read more: Model Courts: Why do lawyers oppose after an outclass performance?

Above-mentioned definitions demonstrate the failure of the academy in Pakistan which remained unable to inculcate one objective definition of what it means to be a lawyer in the minds of young students. Professors and institutions are expected to inform their students that they are being trained for a noble cause, not get a license to spread violence and hate speech.

Judges and lawyers have the same substantive social responsibility within the field of law that is to let the legal discourse evolve and help it become supportive to achieve latent and manifest societal goals. The only difference which exists between a lawyer and a judge is procedural which is manifested while performing their assigned roles towards the same ends.

Senior lawyers in the country need to focus on reforming their formal and informal organizations so that goons who have no respect for law and the judge must not become a part of the legal fraternity. For a more practical solution, I would urge professors at law schools to re-evaluate their courses and overall environment which should ideally produce individuals with an intention to eliminate injustice from the society and replace it with the rule of law, not become dignified criminals. A law student particularly one who is studying in a public sector university needs more attention in the present context so that a sense of social responsibility may be inculcated in his/her mind.

Read more: Islamabad judges are working but lawyers have stopped working: Justice Khosa

To conclude; lawyers are ideally trained to debate and argue but when they start using violence as a primary means of communication, it sadly demonstrates the failure of the academy.

Farah Adeed is a Senior Research Analyst in GVS. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s Editorial Policy.