LAHORE - Although three benches of the Lahore High Court are working at various places, there is no bar on the citizens to directly approach the principal seat of the court for justice, says Supreme Court Bar Association President Barrister Ali Zafar.

Opening his arguments before a seven-member larger bench of the LHC in a case regarding a question about constitutional jurisdiction of the high court’s principal seat and other regional benches, Barrister Zafar said that citizens of Punjab province can approach any bench of the court.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah was heading the bench while other six members were Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmad, Justice Anwarul Haq, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Shahid Karim and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin.

Shafi Muhammad, a resident of Bahawalpur district, had filed a petition before the Lahore High Court Bahawalpur bench and challenged the election of Lahore High Court Bar Association. The petitioner, later, filed an application before the LHC Principal seat and requested the court to transfer his application from Bahawalpur bench to the principal seat.

During the hearing, Barrister Zafar, former President of SCBA Hamid Khan, Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf, Advocate General Punjab Shakil-ur-Rehman, a representative of Punjab Bar Council and presidents of all bars of the LHC were present in the court. Former SCBA President Asma Jahangir, who was also appointed as amicus curie, could not appear before the bench as she was busy in Islamabad.

During the hearing, Barrister Zafar argued that three benches of the LHC were established under the Constitution and there was no bar on citizens of Punjab if they directly approach the principal of the court for justice. He argued that three permanent benches of the high court were established under Article 198 of the Constitution. He also relied upon an SC judgment of 1995 in which the apex court had decided that any citizen residing in the territorial jurisdiction of the LHC regional benches could file a case directly before its principal seat as per his convenience.

Former president of SCBA Hamid Khan sought time from the bench to extend his assistance on the question. Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf and Advocate General Punjab Shakil-ur-Rehman Khan also assisted the court. They supported the arguments of Barrister Zafar but pleaded for more time to argue on the case. The court would resume hearing by August 1.