Hundreds Of ‘Lawyers’ Trading In City Courts On False Resumes
Many fake lawyers are working as govt law officers, standing counsels and state attorneys.
Around 400 fake lawyers are practicing in the district courts of the federal capital Islamabad, as the recent capture and registration of cases against two female fraudsters, who have been practicing as advocates in district courts, has opened the proverbial can of worms once again.
Recently, Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali, while hearing an election-related appeal, pointed out towards the presence of a large number of fake lawyers, saying that advocates who did not even have intermediate-level education are engaged in legal practice.
A detailed investigation conducted by Pakistan Today has revealed that many senior as well as junior advocates in the district courts have fake degrees and that their attempts to get the same verified by the bar have been thwarted. In 2011-2012, a similar campaign was initiated in Islamabad Bar by the then president but due to various reasons, it failed to weed out the fake lawyers.
The bar politics, grouping along various ethnic, sectarian and political lines, senior-junior divide and lack of will has hindered such an operation in the past, the investigation reveals.
Syed Muhammad Tayyab, Islamabad District Bar Association president, says he is determined not to allow any person to don a black coat and taint the name of legal fraternity while possessing a fake degree.
“We have initiated a drive against fake lawyers. I will send my degree first to be verified by Higher Education Commission (HEC) and then everyone will follow suit. We will show no leniency to anyone at all,” he said while talking to Pakistan Today.
When asked how he plans to do the job, he said he was in contact with NADRA, HEC and the universities. “We are also looking at feasibility and practicality of the whole process. By the end of this year, Islamabad Bar will be free of fake lawyers,” he said.
There are advocates without licenses or licenses obtained on fake degrees in every bar association, big or small. The situation in smaller bar associations, away from media glare, is worse as many lawyers there do not have a license at all. Their practice is established on personal contacts and is running on loyal clientele.
Punjab Bar Council, the licensing authority for all the lawyers who wish to practice in any district court in the province or high court, has become a highly politicised entity.
A member of Punjab Bar Council, on condition of anonymity, told Pakistan Today that some members not only sympathise with the culprits but actively protect them from legal action.
“There is this one case filed 20 years ago at PBC regarding fake degrees of two lawyers from Rawalpindi. The case is still pending and that instance alone is testimony of how serious Punjab Bar Council is in the matter, he said.
Pakistan Bar Council, the highest elected body of lawyers, has failed to play a role in countering the menace of fake lawyers and regulating and keeping an overall check on provincial bar councils and district bar association.
Many standing counsels, law officers and prosecutors having fake degrees have been appointed by government to offices. The government did not even bother to get their degrees verified from HEC and relevant universities for reasons known best to the officials concerned.
Advocate Chaudhry Faizan, a young lawyer from Islamabad, said his parents had toiled hard to make him a lawyer. “We have been relegated to the fringes by these fake lawyers. We won’t allow them to tarnish the prestige that is associated with this profession,” he said.
The district bar associations have thrown the ball in provincial bar council’s court. The members of district bars say that they only grant membership based on license given by provincial bar council. The finger-pointing and imputation does not seem to end.
“Pakistan Bar Council, Punjab Bar Council and local bar associations must act in collusion with one other. We need to introduce a strong system of checks and balances to counter these criminals who masquerade around as lawyers. Government must also weed out fake lawyers on its payroll by launching an across the board campaign of verification of their degrees and licenses,” said former member Punjab Bar Council and Advocate Supreme Court, Mushtaq Mohal.
Advocate Abdul Fayyaz, chairman of the Executive Committee of Pakistan Bar Council, said, “PBC deals with the advocates enrolled to appear before the Supreme Court. However, we have sent recommendations to all provincial councils and district bar associations to take stern action against fake lawyers. We are also collaborating with NADRA and HEC to bring all data of enrolled lawyers anywhere in country online. The power to pin-point the fake lawyers and punish them must lie with the regional bar associations, as they know who holds a fake degree.”
“A fire broke out a decade or so back in the record room of Punjab Bar Council, a huge bulk of record perished in that fire, including degrees and record. We are scrutinising the degrees lot-wise, the senior most lawyers will come first, their licenses be checked along with the degrees. The fake degrees will be separated from the genuine ones,” said Syed Intizar Mehdi Shah, member of Punjab Bar Council.
This article was previously published in Pakistan Today and is being republished here with permission.
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