Otherwise a bright, sunny day, Monday turned out to be a black in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) history as for the first time a sitting Chief Justice was taken hostage, his chamber ransacked by rowdy lawyers, and the court decorum violated.
According to details, members of the Islamabad District Bar Association (IDBA) and the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHBA) led by some of their office-bearers angry at demolition of their chambers in the F-8 district courts by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) stormed the IHC building and went straight to the chamber of the chief judge. The CDA anti-encroachment force a day earlier had demolished illegally built chambers of these law-yers.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah who was hearing a case as usual was informed by the court clerks that a mob of lawyers was heading towards the IHC in protest against the CDA operation.
According to sources, the Chief Justice was requested by the staff of the court to leave the IHC building as it could create problems for him, however he did not agree with the idea and went to his chamber instead.
“For the last two-and-a-half years I have been resolving my lawyers’ problems and I am confident we shall sort it out this time too,” a member of the IHC staff who overheard the Chief Justice quoted him.
However, his lawyers proved him wrong. They displayed the worst type of conduct that one doesn’t expect even from the common public that takes law in their hands.
The lawyers—one could spot some senior lawyers among them and even lady lawyers too—first stormed the Court No.1 building by pelting stones chanting slogans and using foul language, then they headed straight to the Chief Justice chamber. There once again they showed the lowest of the low behavior.
They damaged the furniture, broke the glass over the table, damaged the LED on the wall and even shouted at the Chief Justice who was being guarded by his brother judges including Mohsin Akhtar Kiani, Miangul Aurangzeb Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and others.
They even refused the offer of ‘let’s sit in the bar room and sort it out’ by their former colleague and president Mohsin Kiani.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah however, unperturbed by the shouting lawyers inside his chamber kept his calm and reminded them as officers of the court they should not take law in their hands.
“You should not shout nor feel agitated as I have been on your side for the last two-and-a-half years and we shall sort it out,” assured Justice Minallah but the lawyers were not ready to listen.
The role of Islamabad police in this episode has come under a big question mark. The senior officials of the police not only turned up late at sight quite late the special security unit of the Islamabad Police also strangely disappeared from the scene moments before the lawyers stormed into the IHC premises.
The new Inspector general of Police (IGP) Qazi Jamil has failed to maintain security of the IHC one could hear a number of lawyers who disapproved of their colleagues’ unruly behavior. Had the police acted in time, we would not have seen such a shameful scene, they said.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Registrar after violent protests by lawyers declared suspension of judicial work at both the Islamabad High Court and the district courts till further orders.