ISLAMABAD - Insufficient security arrangements and vulnerability of the Islamabad district courts premises pose serious threats to judges and lawyers as well as the hundreds of litigants visiting the area daily to pursue their legal matters.

In this connection, the legal community has expressed their serious concerns over the inadequate security measures and lack of facilities in the district courts premises. District courts of the federal capital are situated in the commercial centre of Sector F-8, which also includes important offices including the excise and taxation office. Furthermore, Hamdard University and commercial plazas and the offices of multinational companies are also situated there which make it the most congested area of the sector.

The area presents muddled look as not only the chambers of lawyers but a number of makeshift offices offering stamp papers, affidavits and attestation and refreshment centres, restaurants, cobblers are all mingled up without any planning.

The premises has eight entry points where walkthrough gates are installed which are not in working condition and most of the time, security officials deputed there are also remained absent. A quick round of district courts divulges that there are only four female security officials along with some policemen deputed at the entry points while the individual search prior to entry is also their discretion.

President District Bar Association Aleem Abbasi expressed his concern over the poor security measures and termed them as security hazards. He said that a boundary wall was erected around the premises when the Commissioner’s office was present there but the same had been broken at many places since no attention was given to repair it after the shifting of Commissioner’s office and there is also no security personnel deputed to avoid any untoward situation. Abbasi demanded of the authorities to deploy Elite Force and Rangers in the premises to avoid any untoward situation in the future. Talking to The Nation, Farrukh Dall Advocate termed the security problem of the district courts as very serious issue and lamented that police as well as Islamabad administration are not ready to cooperate with the legal community in this connection. He said that the security arrangements taken for judges, lawyers, and litigants are very poor. Farrukh opined that in his opinion, security should be more effective and enhanced to ensure safety of general public visiting the court regularly.

Highlighting the various issues facing lawyers in the premises, Media Coordinator of IDBA and IHCBA advocate Chaudhary Khalid Hussain said that security gadgets and metal detectors are not in operative conditions which pose serious life threats to all who visit the area.

He told that they had requested many times to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police to provide district courts with proper security but they paid no attention towards this issue.

He also mentioned that the district courts lack all kind of facilities for the visitors and litigants and even there is no sitting place for them. Khalid was of the view that the security personnel did not know how to deal with people while there were many ‘fraudsters’ as well who often deprived people of their valuables. He wanted that his community members should start a campaign against those who are not lawyers but wear black coats and appear in different courts as lawyers, thus they can be a potential security threat.

Many visitors have also expressed the same reservations. They said that many of the restaurants and eateries, makeshift stalls of cobblers and others are a constant threat for untoward incident as these spots are often crowded by Afghanis.

A frequent visitor of the area, Akram Hayat said that it is the responsibility of the police to provide the area with security, but so far they have not done anything about the situation.

Similarly, Saleem Ahmed, a shopkeeper at the courts said that visitors always complained about the security arrangements at the courts.

He added that they viewed it as a security hazard, as it remained crowded throughout the day with no police cover.

It is also pertinent to mention here that in the past, many incidents of exchange of fire and brawl have taken place at the premises. One also cannot forget the gun and bomb attack last year on the district court which claimed lives of 11 people including a district and sessions judge and 29 other people sustained injuries.

A similar incident occurred on July 17, 2007, when a bomb was exploded while people were busy in preparations to welcome then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

In the bomb blast incident, four people lost their lives while PTI leader Dr Israr Shah was deprived of his both legs.