LAHORE   -    Legal proceedings at the lower courts remained suspended on Monday because of lawyers’ strike, which they observed on the call of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and the Punjab Bar Council against a decision of the National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC).

Strike calls from the country’s bar associations are being made against the March 11 decision of the NJPMC to empower police to make decisions on the applications seek registration of FIRs.

The committee decided to open a complaint cell at the SP office in every district to hear such applications instead of moving the courts for the purpose.

Before the committee’s decision, justices of peace/sessions judges would directly take up the applications seeking orders for registration of FIRs under Sections 22-A and 22-B of the Criminal Procedures Code after a station house officer refuses to lodge an FIR.

Since the committee’s decision on the powers of judicial officers as ‘ex-officio justices of peace’, lawyers have been boycotting courts across the province, including the provincial capital.

Under Section 22-A (6) and 25 of the CrPC, districts and sessions judges as well as additional district and sessions judges exercise the powers of ‘justices of peace’.

They are empowered to order registration of an FIR if a person files a petition that the police officer failed to lodge an FIR on his complaint.

However, after the NJPMC decision, applications under Section 22-A of the CrPC may not be taken up by the courts unless accompanied by decisions of the relevant district SP for complaints.

The decision came after a Police Complaint Redressal Mechanism was made functional at the district level across the country in line with recommendations of the Police Reforms Committee.

The litigants have to appear before the courts without their counsels while most of the cases were adjourned because of unavailability of lawyers. In addition, most of the judges, especially in civil courts, were not seen in courts due to lawyers’ strike. Instead of judges, court staff adjourned the cases.

As a result of the strike, hundreds of under-trial prisoners could not be produced in the city and district courts, and their matter could not be taken up for hearing.

The lawyers stayed away from the courts and the court premises wore a deserted look thereby hitting the litigants hard.

When contacted, Abid Saqi, member of the Pakistan Bar Council, said the fight would be taken to its logical end. He said that lawyers would get the decision reversed at all costs.

Also, Punjab Bar Council’s Executive Committee Chairman Iftikhar Ibrahim said that lawyers stood united to protect their rights and interests. He said the new judicial policy was against the law and lawyers’ welfare.

Regarding applications for registration of FIRs, he said giving power to the police to hear applications against refusal of police officials to lodge FIRs was illogical.

 

LHC MOVED AGAINST FULL BENCH FORMATION

An application has been submitted to Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sardar Shamim Khan to keep the division bench intact to hear the Model Town killing case instead of the larger bench.

Bisma Amjad, whose mother and aunt were amongst those shot dead by the police in Model Town in 2014, has submitted an application to Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sardar Shamim requesting that the order appointing a full bench may be altered and the original division bench kept intact.

The larger bench consisting of Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmed Khan and Justice Aalia Neelum was constituted on the chief justice’s order.

The larger bench was constituted on an application filed by the administrative side. The LHC registrar put up the same with his note. Paragraph 6 of the note reads: “It is submitted that vide 4 ante titled case was nominated to the honourable full bench.”

The applicant has requested the chief justice to revisit the order. She has taken the ground that the order dated 8-03-19 refereeing the matters to a new bench amounts to withdrawing the case from the divisional bench. She says that rules referred to in the application do not support the order under the issue.