LAHORE - A number of lawyers staged a demonstration on Tuesday to show their support for Lahore High Court Bar Association Multan President Sher Zaman Qureshi who has been accused of attacking the courtroom of Justice Qasim Khan, ripping off his nameplate and obstructing justice during hearing of a case at the Multan Bench a couple of weeks ago.

The protesting lawyers also vented their anger on media persons present on the premises of the court for coverage of the event. They accused the media of “biased reporting of Monday’s events” when lawyers attacked the Lahore High Court in reaction to issuance of warrants for the arrest of their colleagues Sher Zaman Qureshi, Syed Qaisar Abbas Kazmi and others. The court was hearing a contempt case against Qureshi, Kazmi and some other lawyers.

In an incident on July 24 that is being described as an attack on the Lahore High Court, Qureshi, Kazmi and some other lawyers misbehaved Justice Qasim Khan at the Multan Bench, ripped off his nameplate and locked the courtroom during hearing of a case related to a land dispute.

A larger bench headed by Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the case. Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Anwaar ul Haq, Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza and Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti are members of the bench.

Qureshi, the main accused in this case, was due to appear before the bench on Tuesday but once again he did not. However, other accused Syed Qaisar Kazmi attended the proceedings. Appearing before the court, Multan Regional Police Officer Sultan Azam Temuri said they conducted raids to arrest Sher Zaman Qureshi but he went underground to avoid arrest. The RPO requested the bench to give more time for Qureshi’s arrest. On this, the bench accepted his plea, but directed him to ensure Qureshi’s arrest before the next date of hearing.

The supporters of Qureshi held their protest on the Lahore High Court premises rather than roads and criticised the media for reporting Monday’s events wherein the lawyers had stormed the court. On Monday, protesting lawyers had pelted the police with stones, brought down a security gate at the court and tried to force their entry into courtrooms. This situation led to a clash between police and lawyers. On Tuesday, the protesting lawyers abused media persons and stopped cameramen from making footage of their protest. They forced reporters and cameramen to leave the place.

According to the Lahore High Court spokesman, majority of the lawyers did not heed the strike call given by the supporters of Qureshi and his colleagues facing contempt charges and they appeared before the courts to plead their cases. He said the majority did not welcome the strike call therefore 95 per cent of cases were taken up by courts on Tuesday.

Moreover, strict security arrangements were made on the occasion and all ways leading to courtroom of the chief justice were blocked by containers and iron-grills. Anti-riot force and personnel of the Rangers were deployed on the premises of the court to maintain law and order. The protesting lawyers, unlike Monday, did not attack security personnel on Tuesday, but they raised slogans against the chief justice and the media.

The supporters of Qureshi were also seen slamming the lawyers who were criticising the accused on television channels. According to the sources, a ban on entry of lawyers criticising the protest was under consideration.

It was fourth hearing of the case, but Qureshi has not appeared before the court even once. On Tuesday, the court once again issued warrants for his arrest. The court will resume hearing of the case on September 8.