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IHC registrar put on notice over arrangements amid May 9 strike

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ISLAMABAD: Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued show cause notices to registrar Tahir Sabir and deputy registrar (security) Awaisul Hassan for not making proper arrangements for lawyers’ entry to the court during the last month strike, after the bar association president denied to have stopped any lawyer from appearing in cases.

Hearing an application of senior lawyer Naeem Bukhari seeking restoration of a case related to Gun and Country Club after its dismis­sal due to non-appearance of counsel, Justice Sattar issued noti­ces to Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Islam­abad Bar Council (IBC), IHC Bar Association (IHCBA) president and secretary, IHC registrar and deputy registrar.

The strike call was issued by PBC and IBC to express solidarity with the legal fraternity after what they called disturbing events of Punjab police brutality against lawyers who were peacefully protesting the “unlawful divisions” of the civil courts in Lahore.

Justice Sattar earlier questioned the PBC and IBC authority to “prevent fellow lawyers and/or litigants from accessing justice, which to be dispensed by the courts, and enforce the same through physical obstruction of passaging to courts.”

Besides CCTV footage of court premises on May 9, the judge also sought from the IHC registrar a report that alleged the IHCBA elected representa-tives were allegedly stopping the fellow lawyers.

The petitioner lawyer drew the attention of Justice Sattar to the reports that IHCBA president Riasat Ali Azad and other office-bearers had stopped his fellow lawyer from appearing before the court in a case related to Gun and Country Club, which was subsequently dismissed over non-appearance of the lawyer.

Mr Bukhari accused incumbent Islamabad High Court Bar Association president of “physically restraining” the lawyer from entering the court premises during the May 9 strike.

When Justice Sattar resumed hearing, PBC member Hassan Raza Pasha and Raja Aleem Khan Abbasi of the IBC questioned the judge’s authority of taking suo motu notice on the application filed for the restoration of the case.

Mr Abbasi also questioned as to why the court had issued notices to the PBC and IBC whereas they were not party in the case. He claimed lawyers were the only segment of society struggling for the rule of law and strike calls were the tool of recording their protest against the highhandedness of any institution.

On the direction of the court, the CCTV footage was later played in the courtroom.

PBC representative dispelled the impression that the IHCBA president was physically stopping lawyers from entering the court premises, pointing out that he could be seen in the footage standing idle.

According to IHCBA president Riasat Ali Azad, lawyers appeared in 99 of around 200 cases fixed for May 9.

Justice Sattar then issued show cause notices to the registrar and the deputy registrar for not making arrangements for smooth entry of lawyers during the strike.

He also directed the IHCBA president to submit a counter affidavit.