The Supreme Court Bar Elections 2019 will be held tomorrow on the 31st of October. Supreme Court advocates from across the country will vote for 22 seats. Lahore consists of the highest number of registered Supreme Court advocates – 1257 in total, compared to other cities.
The Supreme Court Bar Association is an institution where rights of citizens enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan and the discussion surrounding its violations can be voiced, heard and acted upon. Pakistan does not have another such institution that allows such discourse or has the potential to be a champion of peoples’ fundamental human rights.
Mansoor Awan, a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and a rising star in the lawyer’s community explains the significance of the SCBA
MANSOOR AWAN ON THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SCBA
“General Zia-ul-Haq had at that point in time had banned political parties, they were not allowed to hold any political activity. No private or public meetings could take place. At that point in time, it was the bar associations which would invite political leaders which would address them. It was a draconian law and the bar associations came forward. And provided the space which was otherwise not available for any political discourse. Taking this in context, the kind of role bar associations have typically played in 2019 have become absolutely crucial. That this shrinking space for democratic discourse, someone has to stop and reverse this process. And that is where bar associations are critical.”
The last SCBA Election was won by Amanullah Kanrani of the Hamid Khan-led group of lawyers against a tough contest with a popular leader of the lawyer’s movement, Ali Ahmad Kurd of the Independent group, popularly known as the Asma Jahangir group.
This year the contest is between Shoaib Shaheen representing the Hamid Khan led group and the well-known constitutional and criminal lawyer Qalb-i-Hassan from the Asma Jahangir group.
HAS HAMID KHAN GROUP COMPROMISED ON INDEPENDENCE OF JUDICIARY?
“I am optimistic in the sense that whichever side wins, they will not be able to reverse the momentum that at present has been generated for the last 5-6 months. I think it is important that judiciary should be independent from within as well as from without. That there should not be external pressures on judiciary as an institution and any internal pressure on individual judges from within. The hierarchical system that we have is just counterintuitive and runs against the very core and concept of judiciary.”