LAHORE: With the ‘lacklustre’ attitude of the authorities concerned, the junior judicial officers serving in the provincial metropolis feel dejected and demoralised to cope with the cases of corruption and rowdiness they face at the hands of lawyers when doing their duties.
Given the severity of the issue, LHC Registrar Mushtaq Ahmad Ojla recently asked all district & session judges in Punjab to include, along with their results, details on certain incidents that have occurred over the last two years.
The substance of some of the allegations recently sent to the high-ups by the judges reveals that some of the attorneys, both men and women, have the audacity to compel every district judge to suspend the court in the middle of a trial and meet them first in his chamber and to hurl female judges in courtrooms with derogatory statements and abuses.
LHC registrar seeks data of such incidents
The judicial officers say that their superiors, district & sessions judges or senior civil judges, typically prevent them when anyone wishes to record such cases in writing and counsel them, especially in the episodes involving the sitting office-bearers of the bar, to reconcile with the perpetrators.
A judge, on condition of anonymity, told Dawn that his fellow judges, including female officers, confirm cases of bullying by lawyers in a WhatsApp community they set up to communicate with each other every other day.
He said that their superiors were often cautioned by the protesting judge against narrating the coercive actions of a defendant verbatim in their lawsuits, merely to mitigate the seriousness of the incident.
He agreed that in most cases, the judicial officers chose to settle with the offending lawyers because such matters usually end up in their relocation and they did not want to risk their posting in the provincial capital. He said that most judges in the sessions often resist any conflict with the bar to extend their posting in the district of Lahore.
A lawyer emerged from a certain law chamber in my court and began to yell at me why did I deny his exparte maintenance case? I asked him to file an appeal in the open court the judge cited what the lawyer supposedly said but the sentences are omitted by the newspaper] on which he began to corruption. I’m sorry to reiterate the obscene material, but the extent of filth we face needs to be identified,’ writes a female judge in her complaint.
A civil judge recently went on a long leave, evidently in protest against the lack of action by the authorities concerned about his complaint against the office-bearer of the Lahore Bar Association and others on charges of “physical torture, abusive language, mistreatment, threats to life and interference in judicial work.”
Narrating the incident in writing to the Lahore High Court the judge notes that his court order repeatedly told him in the middle of a hearing on the day of the incident that the office-bearer of the LBA and several other lawyers were calling him in his chamber adjacent to the courtroom.
A lawyer also repeatedly came to the court reader and conveyed him that he (the judge) was being summoned by the bar’s office-bearer in the chamber, the judge adds.
As the situation grew critical, the judge says, he went to the chamber with his order to locate six lawyers headed by the secretary of the bar. “In a situation with a warning of “dire consequences,” he alleges that the bar’s chief coerced him to pass a favourable order.
The judge argues that they not only orally assaulted him, but also roughed him up because he failed to satisfy the lawyers’ unlawful order. Some other lawyers have entered the chamber upon hearing the noise and he left the spot, the complaint states.
He also simply referred to the crimes supposedly perpetrated by the bar official, later in a reconciliatory meeting in the company of other bar officials in the room of a senior civil judge.
The bar argues that the conflict was settled amicably” between the judge and the bar official, but the lawsuit lodged by the former shows that there was no resolution.
The judge also recounts another instance in which a prosecutor closed his courtroom in order not to get a favourable verdict.
A lawsuit brought by a woman civil judge charges a woman prosecutor of misconduct in the court and of intimidating the judge for failing to rule in her favour on an appeal.
“Another female judge shares her experience, “A prosecutor (name withheld) threatened and forced me to deliver an order without hearing the other lawyers… trying to throw me out of the courtroom.
Last Saturday, in the new episode, a few attorneys violently attacked a civilian judge in the courthouse.
An official said a senior judge cautioned the victim’s civil judge against revealing the specifics of the incident and assured him within two days of taking action against the perpetrators. However after a lapse of one week no action has so far been taken.
However the bar cabinet revoked the membership of the offender lawyers on appeals from a civil judge and a female family judge and referred the matter to the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) for further action.
LBA President G.A Khan Tariq, speaking to Dawn, claimed to have demonstrated zero tolerance against such events. He said that, relative to the past, the number of cases concerning the corruption of lawyers in the courts was very limited during his term.
He said that the lawyers’ incompetence or misconduct was not permissible in either situation. He claimed, however that the judges should not behave as “activists or do politics” either.
Asked about some advancement in litigation against the suspended attorneys, he said that for quite some time, the PbBC was not technically functioning as its five-year term expired and new elections were to be held on Nov 28.