July 18th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
A parliamentary panel has referred proposals on increasing bar council seats and extension of tenure of bar associations to the Pakistan Bar Council.
On July 15, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice considered three private member bills relating to increase in bar council seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. The standing committee discussed The Legal Practitioners and Bar Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020(Section 5) moved by MNA Dr Nafisa Shah; The Legal Practitioners and Bar Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020, moved by MNA Sher Akbar Khan MNA; and The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 5 and schedule) moved by MNA Mohsin Dawar.
MNA Nafisa Shah’s bill proposed the addition of two seats in the Sindh Bar Council for Khairpur and Karachi. Similarly, MNA Sher Akbar Khan sought addition of one seat while Mohsin Dawar proposed the addition of nine seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council for Buner and tribal districts in their respective bills.
The standing committee referred the matter of increase in provincial bar council seats to the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Raiz Fatyana, head of the standing committee on law and justice, told Voicepk.net. “The PBC has been directed to put up recommendations for increase in seats after consultation with provincial bar councils,” Fatyana said. The proposal for enhancement must contain a rationalised formula for enhancement of bar council seats, he said. “The recommendations of Pakistan Bar Council are to be sent to the standing committee within 60 days,” Fatyana said.
Extension in bars’ tenure
The standing committee also deliberated upon proposals relating to the extension of the tenure of the bar associations. “The bar associations are not mentioned in The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act and are governed through the rules,” Fatyana said. It was suggested that the bar associations should be brought under the said Act by insertion of a new section and extending the tenure of bar associations to two years instead of one year. “The standing committee referred the matter of incorporation of the new section about streamlining the elections for all bar associations to the PBC,” Fatyana added.
According to Zahid Raja, President of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, said the standing committee was apprised of the legal community’s demand for extension of tenure of bar associations in the meeting.
“The legal community wanted that the office-bearers of bar associations should get ample time to work for the welfare of their members. The holding of annual elections was a significant financial burden on the bar associations and a two-year tenure will significantly reduce that expenditure,” Zahid Raja told Voicepk.net.
The standing committee also considered The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2O2l, moved by MNA Riaz Fatyana. The committee unanimously recommended that the bill, as amended by the Standing Committee, may be passed by the National Assembly.
Fatyana’s bill proposed insertion of a new section 5D in the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973. The proposed section will allow lawyers joining the service of Pakistan on basis of legal experience to remain members of their respective bar councils. However, these government officials will not be eligible to appear before any court as an advocate or legal practitioner in a private capacity. “The standing committee proposed minor amendments in my bill to limited its scope to advocates working as government servants in legal sections of the provincial assemblies, National Assembly, Senate and law departments in provinces and federal government,” Fatyana said.
Law Commission to report on increase in number of judges
The standing committee also deliberated on The High Courts (Establishment) (Amendment) Bill moved by MNA Mohsin Dawar, referring it to the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan.
The standing committee recommended that the Law and Justice Commission provides a comprehensive formula for the enhancement of number of judges in all provinces based on a rationalised formula in view of the number of pending cases. “The recommendations of Law and Justice Commission shall reach the standing committee within a month,” according to a statement issued by the Standing Committee on Law and Justice. lt was also recommended by the Standing Committee that the Ministry of Law and Justice shall provide details about the total number of posts of judges in High Courts and Supreme Courts along with pending cases before each court. The said details shall be provided to the standing committee within 30 days, according to the statement.
Recruitment process of judges
The standing committee also held a discussion on judicial reforms. It was recommended that the Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, and Law and Justice Ministry shall provide proposals to the standing committee in writing for the fair and competition-based process of recruitment of judges in the country, according to the committee’s press statement.
MNAs Lal Chand, Muhammad Farooq Azam Malik, Kishwar Zehra, Muhammad Sana Ullah Khan Masti Khel, Malik Muhammad Ehsan Ullah Tiwana, 5hunila Ruth, Rana Sana Ullah Khan, Qadir Khan Mandokhail, Nafisa Shah, Aliya Kamran and Mohsin Dawar, Sher Akbar Khan, Uzma Riaz and the Secretary of Ministry of Law and Justice, representatives of Ministry of Human Rights, Khushdil Khan, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, Zahid Raja, President of Islamabad High Court Bar Association, along with their staff attended the meeting.