By Hassaan Khan Niazi
Lawyers ought to be the fighters for justice, and the upholders of the rule of law. Instead we have become a symbol of fear.
The Masjid gate of Lahore High Court was closed, so I had to walk to the back gate in order to reach the principal seat of the Lahore High Court (LHC). The aftermath of the chaos by the black coated hooligans, had completely upset the ambiance of intellect and grace. The steel shutter (nearly 15x20 feet), which had been put up to block the alley way leading to Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah’s court, lied broken on the ground. Stones littered the floor which titans like Jinnah, Amir Raza Khan, and Abid Hassan Minto had used to walk towards the courts to pursue justice.
For all lawyers, who have a passion for the profession; practice is life and the courts are our homes. The lawyers, and those pretending to be lawyers, had attacked their own home in order to safeguard their ever-changing integrity and ever inflated egos. The Multani hoodlum, Sher Zaman, did not have the courage to appear before the court Larger Bench himself, so he chose to send a few cronies from Multan to ‘fight’ on his behalf.
I started looking for this group that had attack our home. When I finally encountered the group of lawyers who were responsible for such disrespect of the High Court, standing outside the judges’ gate on main Mall Road, I was surprised to see their stubbornness. Some were throwing stones and brick over the judges’ gate, knowing it would bear them no fruit. Some were shouting abusive and degrading slogans regarding the honourable Chief Justice.
Gone are the days when influence and force could be used to escape the law. Now even the Prime Minister is held accountable under the law. Mr Sher Zaman should know that he cannot take the law into his own hands while hiding behind the black coat What is almost unforgivable is the absence of some of the senior and most influential names. These influential lawyers are those who lead the political fronts of the only two groups of lawyers, politically. For the dignity of the bench to be rescued, it is imperative for big names such as Hamid Khan Advocate to intervene. The lawyers who took law into their own hands reportedly belong to the Hamid Khan group, and as such, are besmirching the reputation and the integrity of Mr Khan. Therefore, it is important for him to disown such elements if he is to maintain his integrity.
Mr Rasheed A Rizvi, who is President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, has also been curiously silent and absent from the mainstream. It’s time for the respected lawyers like Mr Rizvi and Mr Khan to break the silence and condemn the hooliganism which the entire country witnessed.
There is no justification for the actions of Sher Zaman. He does not only deserve to be put behind bars, but his license should also be cancelled permanently. The profession is better off without the likes of him. Gone are the days when influence and force could be used to escape the law. Now even the Prime Minister is held accountable under the law. Mr Sher Zaman should know that he cannot take the law into his own hands while hiding behind the black coat. Also appalling were the false allegations of corruption raised against the Chief Justice in order to malign his character and credibility as an honest member of the bench. Those who tried to defame him should be asked that was the honourable Chief Justice not corrupt before he took the contempt notice. Lawyers ought to be the fighters for justice, and the upholders of the rule of law. Instead we have become a symbol of fear. Lawyers have always been looked upon to correct the wrongs in a society, help the weak, protect the innocent, and respect the law.
All these lawyers who wreaked havoc in the High Court, should have been using pens to fight their battles, but sadly, they decided to pick up stones. They were supposed to pick up books rather than batons. They were supposed to raise their voices on the rostrum, rather they raised their voices to shout slogans, hurl abuses, and spew venom at the bench. Instead of trying to win against the Bench, the Bar should rather help the Bench win. Otherwise, history will not forget who stood on which side when Sher Zaman and his cronies attacked our home — the court.