LAHORE Judicial crisis in Punjab turned graver yet on Monday, when more judges and judicial officers jumped into counter-protest against the lawyers.
A large number of civil and additional judges tendered resignation as a counter-protest against the lawyers who were taking out rallies to protest against police torture upon lawyers and pressing for the transfer of District and Sessions Judge Lahore Zawar Ahmad Sheikh.
The judicial officers also expressed solidarity with Zawar Sheikh and complained against the insulting attitude of the lawyers. A day earlier too, around 100 civil judges had resigned, vowing not to return to courts until their prestige was restored to them. They alleged that some top lawyers wanted their favourites to fill in certain posts in judiciary and for that very reason they did not want an honest man like Zawar Sheikh in the District and Sessions seat.
Later reports tell that around 1,300 judicial officers, mostly civil judges, in other parts of the province also tendered their resignations to the respective D&SJs for expressing solidarity with Justice Zawar Sh but Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif rejected resignations of the judicial officers asking them to continue performing their duties in the interest of the poor litigants and others.
He also advised the judicial officers to serve the masses without any greed and fear.
Meanwhile the lawyers throughout Punjab completely observed black day on the call of the Pakistan Bar Council. In Khyber PK and Balochistan too, lawyers went on boycott of the courts, while in Punjab not only boycott was observed, but rallies were also taken out and protest meeting held. In Multan, a clash took place between the lawyers and the police when the former broke open main gate of the court premises and came out to protest against violence on their community in Lahore.
They pelted stones at the police and set the effigies of IG Punjab and Secretary Home on fire. At some places of Sargodha, Gujranwala, judges sat in courtrooms without hearing cases for some time, but late reports said, these judicial officers have also tendered their resignations. In Faisalabad, lawyers took out a rally from District Courts up to Clock Tower Square.
In City, heavy police contingents were deployed around the court premises and other sensitive points in the city, yet the lawyers took out rally on the Mall in violation of the section 144 Cr PC. The city rally was led by Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Kazim Khan, Vice Chairman Punjab Bar Council Mumtaz Mustafa, former President SCBA Ali Ahmad Kurd, LHCBA Secretary Babar Murtaza, Secretary SCBA Raja Zulqurnain and Lahore Bar office bearers and others. Police was seen sitting in the Nasir Bagh, giving free hand to the lawyers to stage their protest.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah held a press conference in which he imputed the Federal law Minister Babar Awan as responsible for the crisis.
In Sindh, lawyers held a meeting at Karachi Bar and gave three days deadline to authorities to address grievance of the lawyers failing which they vowed to join the protest.
Lawyers in their protest rallies chanted slogans against Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif and demanded him to quit the office.
General House of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association and Balochistan High Court Bar Association passed condemnation resolution against thrashing of Lahore lawyers and held boycott of the courts.
The Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif held a meeting with his senior judges, Registrar and others to discuss the situation.
Meanwhile, senior lawyers and former judges have also showed their concern on the situation.
Commenting on the situation, Justice retired Wajih uddin said that the issue should be resolved through discussion because some elements could take advantage of the dispute.
AK Dogar said civil judges resignation marks a protest but the issue should be patched up as soon as possible.
Justice Saeed Uz Zaman Siddiqui said the dispute should be resolved but if we accepted the lawyers demand it would set a new trend.