In a society like ours where rate of literacy is woefully low and poverty and backwardness are rampant lawyers and doctors naturally constitute vital part of intelligentsia. They are supposed to act as role models by setting examples to follow by the masses in terms of defending the writ of state and majesty of law. They are expected to obtain a just and healthy society. But what to do if doctors walk out of hospitals and lawyers storm courts of justice. Such conduct leads to patients’ death on the roadside and adds to litigants woes. Something like that has happened in Lahore as a result of a strike by young doctors nearly a dozen patients died and the principal seat of Lahore High Court was briefly rendered dysfunctional by some lawyers who stormed the courtroom of Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. A five-member bench was to hold contempt proceedings against Multan High Court Bar Association’s Sher Zaman and Syed Abbas Naqvi. On July 24, the LHC Chief Justice had called the judges at the Multan registry back to the principal seat after the accused had misbehaved and obstructed judicial proceedings being conducted by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan. The judge was hearing a contempt of court case against the two. That done, an unruly group set about vandalizing the court premises. The two gentlemen were now supposed to attend the proceedings at the court’s principal seat, as pledged by the Lahore Court Bar Association President, but they were nowhere in sight. Instead lawyers gathered around the courtroom to exhibit their clout with a view to bringing to an abrupt end the contempt proceedings. The police on duty acted like silent spectators. If this is what the police is expected to do then it was a case of willful neglect of duty. However, the only redeeming feature of the episode was Chief Justice’s stern warning that should the accused by absent at the next hearing again non-bailable warrants would be issued against them.
At the next hearing, August 11, both Sher Zaman Qureshi and Syed Abbas Naqvi are expected to show up. They may even seek court’s pardon. But what happened in Lahore this past Wednesday is a matter of shame, although it was not the first time such ruckus had been created on the premises of LHC and elsewhere in the country to exert pressure on courts by disrupting proceedings. In the Multan case, the court had shown grace and withdrawn non-bailable warrants for the purported contemnors at repeated requests of bar leaders. Unfortunately, however, that noble gesture had failed to quench lawyers’ thirst for violence.