February 9th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday, February 9, issued contempt notices to 17 lawyers for their role in the ransacking of the high court premises on Monday. Retaliating to this, the Islamabad Bar Council (IBC) has called for a strike on Wednesday, February 11, rallying behind the accused lawyers.
In the statement, IHC announced that “it has issued the contempt of court notices to the following 17 lawyers so far on account of their contemptuous act during the incident took place on February 8, in Islamabad High Court”. The lawyers who have been issued notices are Ahsan Majeed Gujjar, Arbab Ayub Gujjar, Faiser Jadoon, Farzana Mughal, Hamad Dar, Naseer Kayani, Nazia Abbasi, Raja Zahid, Shaista Tabbasum, Yasmin Rashid Sindhu, Kulsoom Rafique, Kamran Yousafzai, Hafiz Malik Mazhar Javed, Khalid Mebmood. Raja Amjad, Raja Farrukh and Tasadduq Hanif.
On Februrary 8, a mob of lawyers smashed thewindows in the Chief Justice block, chanting slogans outside the IHC Chief Justice’s office following the Capital Development Authority’s demolition of illegal chambers set up by lawyers in the premises of the district and sessions court in the federal capital. In a video footage shared on social media platforms, Chief Justice IHC Athar Minallah is seen besieged by the protesting lawyers inside his chamber. The high court and district court remained shut on Tuesday
Prior to the high court announcement, the Islamabad Bar Council, the Islamabad District Bar and the Islamabad High Court Bar Association issued a six-point resolution, calling for a strike on Wednesday over the demolition of lawyers chambers in the district courts and manhandling of lawyers.
“That the events consequent to the demolition of the chambers, which created a law and order situation at the Islamabad High Court are indeed reprehensible,” the resolution reads, referring to the ransacking of high court premises.
Bar bodies demand withdrawal of cases
Refusing to take action against lawyers accused of attacking the high court, the resolution demands that “the FIRS lodged against the learned advocates should immediately be withdrawn”. Instead, the resolution called for the removal of the District and Sessions Judge(West) Islamabad. “That the learned District and Sessions Judge(West) Islamabad should immediately be removed and moreover the officials of Islamabad District Administration and CDA, who are responsible for the demolition of the authorized chambers should immediately be proceeded against in accordance with law,” the resolution reads.
According to the first investigation report lodged with Ramna Police Station, Inspector Muhammad Hayat, security incharge of the high court building, states that a mob of 250 to 300 lawyers forced entry into the premises through one of the gates of premises, entering the Chief Justice Block in the building. The protesting lawyers besieged courtroom No-1, chanting slogans as well as pelting stones, the FIR reads. The lawyers ransacked offices in the premises and broke window panes and furniture, Hayat stated in the FIR, adding that the mob also manhandled a reporter and a cameraman and snatched a rifle from the guard of the chief justice.
33 lawyers identified in FIR but no arrest yet
The security incharge has named 33 lawyers, including seven women, in the FIR along with 250 to 300 unidentified lawyers for ransacking and attacking the court premises. Police has not arrested any protesting lawyer till the filing of this report. Some of the lawyers identified in the FIR are candidates in the forthcoming election of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association on 27th February. The high court has sent reference against lawyers named in the FIR to the Islamabad Bar Council for disciplinary action.
The chief justice chaired a meeting with senior law enforcement and district administration officials including the Federal Interior Secretary, the IGP Islamabad, the Chief Commissioner Islamabad over the attack on the high court building. The participants were briefed on the registration of the FIR, as well as further action to be taken against culprits following review of CCTV footages. The participants were informed of the fresh notices issued by the CDA over encroachment in the district courts.
Courts to resume working from Wednesday
According to a statement from the Islamabad High Court, the district courts will resume regular court work from 10th February. In an earlier statement, the high court clarified that the cause lists for Tuesday were cancelled for one day in order to avoid inconvenience to the general public and lawyers in view of the strike announced by the Islamabad Bar Council, Islamabad High Court Bar Association and District Bar Association. “The chief justice and other high court judges are performing their functions and present in their respective chambers,” the statement read.
According to the IBC statement, the meeting was attended by Zulfiqar Ali Abbasi, Vice Chairman, members IBC Syed Qamar Hussain Shah Sabzwari, Raja M. Aleem Khan Abbasi, Naseer Ahmad Kayani, Adil Aziz Qazi, Haseeb Muhammad Ch, President, IHCBA, lrnran Shoukat Rao, Vice President, IHCBA, Sohail Akbar Ch, Secretary, IHCBA, lftikhar Ahmad Bajwa, Joint Secretary, lHCBA, Fareed Hussain Kaif, President, IDBA, Farzana Faisal Khan, Vice President IDBA, Liaqat Manzoor Kamboh, Secretary, IDBA, and Saad Raja, joint Secretary, IDBA. The Supreme Court Bar Association has also backed the protesting lawyers in its statement on Monday.