SHAHZAD AHAMD

LAHORE - The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) has turned the week-long strike call made by the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) across Punjab province against delay in the formation of Lahore High Court benches in Faisalabad, Sargodha, Gujranwala and other divisions.

On Monday, the lawyers in the provincial capital appeared in the courts as a routine and did not boycot the legal proceedings. However, some of the lawyers could not reach the courts as they could not be informed about the decision of the LBA.

LBA Secretary General Sohail Murshad when contacted said that the LBA office-bearers had not been taken into confidence before making the strike call by the Punjab Bar Council. He was of the that the matter was pertaining to the lawyers those regions where the LHC benches were not being established. “Why should we (lawyers in Lahore) go on strike,” he questioned.

When asked if the PbBC leaders contact with the Lahore Bar officeholders for the going on strike, the latter will support the former, Murshad said that time had passed now it would not be appropriate and affective.

On Saturday, the PbBC had announced week-long strike on the “refusal” of provincial law ministry to hold “previously scheduled” talks with the lawyers on the formation of division benches.

Led by Bushra Qamar, the chairperson of PbBC Executive Committee, and other leaders, the lawyers had taken out a protest rally from the PbBC building to the Lahore High Court and also staged a sit-in so as to express solidarity with the lawyers demanding establishment of LHC benches in Gujranwala, Sargodha and other regions of the province.

She said that the provincial ministry officials had scheduled to hold a meeting with the lawyers’ leaders on the issue. However, she added, the Law Ministry had refused to hold the meeting when she contacted with the secretary of Law Minister Raja Basharat a day earlier. She said that the lawyers would go all out to get the demanded accepted. The PbBC office-bearers said that the council fully supports the lawyers’ rights but not their illegal activities and vandalism being carrying out for acceptance of their demand for establishment of LHC benches in Faisalabad, Gujranwala and other divisions.

They said that the lawyers’ demand was legal so the government should establish LHC benches as per commitments made by different government representatives in the past. They justified their support to the protesters while saying that if Mengora and Swat benches of Peshawar High Court could be set in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa why LHC benches could not be set up in Punjab. However, in the other parts of Punjab such as Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial, Pasrur, Zafarwal and Shakargarh, the lawyers went on a week-long strike to press their demand.

Sialkot District Bar Association (DBA) President Kh Muhammad Irfanul Haq said that the strike by the lawyers would continue till December 9. He said that the lawyers will also boycott courts till the announcement by Lahore High Court (LHC) regarding the establishment of LHC’s benches.

Later, in an important meeting of the Sialkot District Bar Association (DBA), the lawyers unanimously passed several resolutions, demanding early establishment of LHC Divisional Bench.