Are lawyers above the law?

Published: June 5, 2012

ASI from Gujranwala was kicked and punched. His uniform was torn in the premises of the Lahore High Court (LHC). PHOTO: RIAZ AHMED

Having successfully restored deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, some lawyers – we all know who I am referring to – have started to think that they are above the law.

The recent attacks by lawyers on policemen, readers and judges are truly abominable. These acts of mob violence can be expected from the uneducated masses. However, coming from a highly educated bunch, this uncouth aggression is shocking, to say in the least.

There has been a string of incidents across Punjab in the past few months where lawyers have manhandled policemen and court readers, entering into unwarranted arguments and abusing the judges of the subordinate judiciary.

A few days ago, some angry lawyers had forced civil judge Saif Ullah into his courtroom, and locked it behind them. They thrashed him and hurled abuses at him.

More recently, a group of lawyers maltreated a judge’s reader at civil courts and an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) from Gujranwala was kicked and punched. His uniform was torn to pieces in the premises of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

Can you imagine the level of barbarianism our educated has stooped to? To malign some one in a courtroom – a place reseved for justice, is completely ludicrous.

Interestingly enough, not one lawyer has been punished, so far, in any of the incidents as they managed to secure bail.

The LHC Judge took the notice of beating of ASI and summoned the High Court Bar Association representatives after the civil courts employees abandoned their work and went on strike against the rough attitude meted out to their colleague. However, no action has been taken against the responsible lawyers thus far.

Are our lawyers above the law?

How are they allowed to get away with acts of violence when others are duly punished?

A couple of incidents were reported in the recent past where lawyers tortured policemen for not giving statements of their liking in the court. All civil judges of Lahore and Faisalabad observed a pen-down strike in March this year against the alleged torture of their colleagues by lawyers.

Such incidents are worrisome as the height of vandalism was reached on the part of those who are expected to uphold the rule of law in the country. If the legal fraternity is violating the law of the land and no action is being taken against them by the bars and the courts, then one shudders to think where our country is heading.

Apparently certain black sheep have entered this noble profession who want to make their name by bullying the prosecutors, witnesses and judges to get verdicts of their desires.

This trend cannot be accepted by a civilised society. The entire community of lawyers will lose its credibility in the eyes of the people if these lawyers escape unpunished.

Hence, it is the responsibility of the Bar Associations to call a national-level meeting and take a firm decision to deal with such condemnable acts, including a lifetime ban on the practice of legal profession towards those indulging in such behaviour and violating the code of ethics.

In addition to this, the Supreme Court should also take suo moto notice of the issue in order to uphold it’s dignity and honour.

Follow Fassi on Twitter @fassifarooq

Fassi Farooq

Fassi Farooq

An Islamabad based writer who works for Newspakistan.pk and tweets @fassifarooq

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Pakistani

    Senior lawyers while sitting in the bar or in courtroom often opined that after alleged Lawyer movement of 2007, a new class of lawyers came into being. who are called Ba-ustadayy (without teacher) who refuses to listen to anyone, who show no respect to their senior lawyers, judges, colleagues, employees of the courts. You often see them doing such activities in the court or its vicinity. Recommend

  • Hashmi

    Only Army can bring justice. We have no justice even in the premises if the court.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The ‘lawyers movement’ for restoration of the judiciary created high expectations which were misplaced and the government really did not help in this process. Setting matters right is a task for enlightened and strong people, qualities not readily available, just yet.Recommend

  • Moazzam Salim

    I do not know why all things lawyers do have to be connected to the so called lawyers movement which in fact was restoration of judiciary movement for all intents and purposes. It is a given fact that all professions have black sheep who do things that are in contravention to the profession specific ethics and morals generally. Why then people expect something different from lawyers? It is as if some of us still cannot swallow the fact that lawyers were at the forefront of the Restoration of Judiciary Movement. The moment any one of the legal fraternity takes a wrong step all the media starts calling it Wukla Gardi!! Oh please!! give us a break. Are there no bullies in media? or in other professions? It is really easy to be self righteous but one should not condemn anyone unheard. And please let me repeat my request do not link the bad characters in the legal profession and their deeds to the Restoration of Judiciary Movement that would not only be unfair but also a case of bad imagination.Recommend

  • Sultan Khan

    Firstly, to say that Iftikhar was restored due to the movement of the lawyers is totally wrong. He could not have been restored even if the so called”lawyers” had been protesting for hundred of years, It was due to PML(N) and PPP. Secondly, I wonder when suo moto can be taken for merely two bottles of wine which had nothing to do with the human rights then why it has not been taken for the extreme violations of human rights by the black sheeps.Recommend

  • vaqas

    @Sultan Khan:
    My sentiments exactly. They have all these irrelevent suo moto actions happening but none for their own wretched backyard. But to add to your claim that it was the political backing that brought about the restoration, i am sure you are right. But then can these nefarious lawyers who are on the rampage not be with the said political backing as well? Not an entirely far fetched idea. Would explain their impunity much more satisfactorily.
    And at moazzam: the hooliganism witnessed by us now which is sad and in no way should be condoned, disturbingly and matter of factly has started after the so called restoration movement. I call it so called because taking support from political parties has effectively elimininated any sense of impartiality from the judiciary. I hope the readers are smart enough for me to not need to elaborate on that.Recommend

  • kinbintin

    Within a year of the lawyer’s movement being mobilised back in 2008, by 2009 it had been successfully infiltrated by intelligence agency sponsored radicals and hooligans. They were afraid that this was a genuine progressive and secular movement, and a democratic one, therefore it had to be stopped. Or atleast rubbished. Recommend

  • Sane

    This depicts degenerated social values. Gone are days when lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalist were noble professions. Now all these are mere money and power oriented professions like any other profession. What else one can expect In a country where law makers are the biggest law breakers and custodians of law are criminals.Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    @kinbintin:

    “Within a year of the lawyer’s movement being mobilised back in 2008, by 2009 it had been successfully infiltrated by intelligence agency sponsored radicals and hooligans. They were afraid that this was a genuine progressive and secular movement, and a democratic one, therefore it had to be stopped. Or atleast rubbished.”
    .
    The so-called Intelligence Agency personnel have a reputation of not being that intelligent, except of course James Bond. Even to suggest ,,,,,,,,,”this was a genuine progressive and secular movement, and a democratic one, “ @kinbintin, you really take the cake.
    .

    Mumtaz Qadri salutes the lawyers for their unflinching support.
    .Recommend

  • Kinda pissed

    Law around the globe, is seen as this very elite and prestigious profession. My uncle in the usa saved for a decade to send my cousin to a top lawschool there. Anyways i’m drifting away from my point, my point is that here in pakistan these people are just a group of pricks who are exploiting there profession.
    => P.s: one of my uncle here in pak is a lawyer :pRecommend

  • Blind folded

    mind you, dont really sympathize for the policemen much too. Although what i’m about to say might sound stereotypical, but i’m writing the below out of experience.
    few months back i was going some where at about 12am. I was driving alone in Islamabad, and you know how tight the security these days is. Anyhow i was stopped by a gang of them. They started asking stupid questions and literaly asked for rs.200, i got angry and shouted a bit and broke into a fight. Slapped the guy and BOOM! I was punched 3 times. Later they asked me about my whereabouts and everything. The second i told them my father was a **** (big post in govt, sorry but i’m really not trying to brag about my dad’s job :p) i could see all of their faces in fear. I was astonishing how someone who was so confidently violent turned into a cowardly cat. They literally apologized for half hour, and then i left.
    I used to think policemen at higher posts were the only corrupt ones, and these security ones were just hardworking people and i respected that…but due to that incident the police as a profession lost my respect.
    My point here is, that although i have no sympathy to neither the lawyers nor the policemen, we need to be realistic. Just because the writer portrayed the lawyers here as the negative party and policeman the innocent, we need not to turn against any of them. There are good lawyers here in pakistan and some very good honest policemen too :) Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Blind folded: “i got angry and shouted a bit and broke into a fight. Slapped the guy and BOOM! I was punched 3 times.”

    You did behave like son of a powerful man. You should have told them about your fater before starting the fight. Powerful people who break the laws should be punished too.Recommend

  • Vikram

    Most lawyers are very crooked people.
    Look for yourself
    here is a suvery of Honesty/Ethics in various Professions by Gallup organization.
    most lawyers are average or below average as far as ethics and honesty is concerned.
    Pakistani lawyers even seem to be worse.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspxRecommend