Actors-in-Law

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    Resorting to violence, is certainly not, and can never be a way of the law and its dignified flag bearers,

     

    Violence erupted on Monday dated August 21, 2017 as Police resorted to water cannons and fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse an outrageous mob of lawyers from the Lahore High Court (LHC) premises. Clashes broke out amid the LHC Chief Justice, Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Sher Zaman Qureshi, the president of Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) Multan Chapter, along with the orders of cancelation of his license, in a contempt of court case being heard against the latter.

    Last month, Qureshi allegedly along with some lawyers had misbehaved with Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan disrupting the court proceedings in Multan, following which the Chief Justice Lahore High Court had taken strict notice of the rather unfortunate incident, and constituted a committee to dig into the facts related to the matter.

    Following the announcement of the verdict, Qureshi’s supporting lawyers turned violent, threw stones at the law enforcing agency representatives which disrupted business activities in the surroundings, and attempted to storm the Chief Justice Block of LHC, which was blocked by the police officials and anti-riot force personnel with the help of tear gas and water cannons. The police suspended shelling on assurance by the lawyers that they would continue their protest peacefully, and will not resort to violence.

    Later in the evening, the Mall Road (Lahore) remained blocked for traffic as the protesting lawyers took to the roads.

    The government of Punjab stepped forward and expressed its resolve towards ensuring the supremacy of law and judiciary. The spokesperson, Malik Ahmed Khan, while talking to media said that, “the provincial authorities will not allow the lawyers to hold the judges hostage under any circumstances”.

    This is certainly not the first incident of lawyers taking the law in their own hands. Coming from an educated and professionally trained background, lawyers are expected to behave in a civilised manner while upholding the law and the constitution, however, during last few years, particularly after the lawyers’ movement for restoration of judges, we have witnessed a soaring increase in incidents involving lawyers that are characterised by violence.

    Resorting to violence, is certainly not, and can never be a way of the law and its dignified flag bearers, rather actors-in-law posing to be.

    Supremacy of law or lawyers?

    A decision given by the court is expected to be respected, and accepted by all sides even if it is against their interest, and must be considered in absolute compliance with the standards of law, and the constitution. This is a general rule of thumb. Protesting against court’s decision is in itself is a symbol of distrust on the court and the supreme judiciary, which is considered to be a contempt of the court, irrespective of whosoever is the perpetrator of such an act.

    Rules, however, are meant to be broken, as they say. But in this particular case, the rule being broken by lawyers is an irony, and perhaps an aberration too, as lawyers all over the world, of all people, respect the institution of judiciary, and the law, the most. In Pakistan, unfortunately, the lawyers, not all of course, but in a good number seem to have adopted violence as a methodology to pressurise their juniors, as well as seniors, on complying with their wishes and expectations. A decision against their will leads to eruption of protests, strikes, and violence paralyzing courts, and their operations. A layman would ask, if the lawyers who are meant to serve the purpose of law, and work towards establishing its supremacy, are not willing to adhere to the very standards of law, why shall others?

    Court rooms are expected to pass judgments that are in accordance with the law of the land, rather than favourite decisions that would have a greater level of acceptance among all. The legal fraternity must remind itself of this very fact, and play a more positive role towards establishing the supremacy of law, for which an essential pre-requisite is to respect, and accept the verdicts given by the courts and senior judges.

    Instigating violence will achieve nothing. After all, we as a nation attained our dream of independence under the leadership of lawyers i.e. Quaid-e-Azam, and Allama Iqbal, and it was their discipline, and civilised advocacy that led us to our destination, not violence. Perhaps our lawyers can find no better role models for themselves.

    Defaming the Judicial prestige

    Of all professions and professionals, law and lawyers are held in high respect in any society including Pakistan because of the services they render. Being looked upon as a prestigious institution burdens the judiciary, and the lawyers fraternity with an even greater responsibility of establishing the rule of law at all levels without any discrimination, and to ensure delivery of justice to the masses.

    The judiciary earned great respect publicly post the lawyers’ movement, and the contribution of lawyers in the movement was widely appreciated in all circles as it contributed greatly to maintaining the independence of judiciary, an element necessary to establish the supremacy of law. Nevertheless, events where the lawyers take law into their hands, and incite violence are a scar on the judiciary, and defame the prestige of the institution.

    The lawyers must remind themselves of the sanctity their profession holds, and must act in accordance with their rigorous qualification and training. It is also a responsibility of senior lawyers to act responsibly, and guide the juniors in the right direction, and keep them from being misled, as it harms the reputation of not just the lawyers, but the judiciary as a whole. Last but not the least, we must also realise that neither do all lawyers resort to violence, nor does the institution teach and encourage them to. Those who commit such acts constitute only a few of many lawyers, and must be segregated from the rest. Instead of blaming the institution, it is the individual level that needs to be focused.

    Intentional or unintentional, no one must be allowed to defame the judiciary, and the actors-in-law who try to do so must be taken to the task by the courts themselves.