Requiem For A Dream

Requiem For A Dream

It is despicable for Pakistan Bar Council to propagate that judges of the honorable courts do not have powers to suspend the licence of lawyers who are guilty of misconduct. Last week, the Vice Chair of Pakistan Bar Council, Mr. Farogh Naseem appeared in a television talk show Aaj Kamran Khan Ke Sath and expressed his views stating that the superior judiciary does not have power to suspend the licence of a lawyer. He further stated that it is the Provincial Bar Council which has the sole authority to suspend the licence of a particular lawyer. While watching this interview I was shocked to hear such views. I thought at that time how selfish we had become to protect our vested interests, only to sustain the support of lawyers and secure their votes rather than upholding the cause of the independence of judiciary. We are well aware that recently a Supreme Court judge in a reported case 2015 SCMR 810 had in fact suspended the licence of a senior lawyer.

Let us first study the law: whether a superior court judge can suspend the licence of a lawyer or is it the sole authority of the Provincial Bar Council? Section 54 of the Legal Practitioners Bar Council Act 1973 states:

54. Powers of Supreme Court and High Court to suspend advocates from practice.-

(1) The Supreme Court or a High Court may, while making a complaint under sub-section (2) of Section 41 against an advocate, make an order for the suspension of the advocate from practice if, after hearing such advocate, the Court is of the opinion that he has committed an act of grave indiscipline in the view of the Court or grave professional misconduct in relation to any proceeding before it, and his immediate suspension is expedient or necessary in the interest of administration of justice.

(2) On a complaint made to it against an advocate by a Court subordinate to it, the High Court May-.

(a) make an order under sub-section (1) in respect of such advocate if, after hearing him, it is of the opinion that he has committed grave professional or other misconduct in relation to any proceeding before such subordinate Court, and his immediate suspension, pending the proceedings before the Bar Council, is expedient or necessary in the public interest and forward the complaint to the Provincial Bar Council for action in accordance with Section 41; or

(b) without making any order under sub-section (1), forward the complaint to the Provincial Bar Council for action in accordance with Section 41; or

(c) direct that no further action need be taken in respect of the complaint.

According to Lahore High Court (Establishment of Benches Rules) 1981, Chapter 6:

In exercise of the power conferred by Article 202 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, the High Court makes the following rules:

1. Where, on the complaint of any person or otherwise, the Chief Justice or the Court is of the opinion that an Advocate has been guilty of misconduct or conduct unbecoming an Advocate, with regard to any matter concerning the Court, the Chief Justice or the Court may either after affording him an opportunity of oral hearing, take such disciplinary action, including suspension and removal from practice of the Court,against him as it may deem fit, or refer to the Punjab Bar Council for inquiry and action under the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973.

At times the lawyers’ community is responsible for becoming a hurdle in the administration of justice. The movement for the independence of judiciary has restored the confidence of masses in the movement of lawyers, but it does not mean that the lawyers start misbehaving with the honorable judges to seek relief for their clients. Lawyers have to learn that they have to play within the rules. Unfortunately over the past few years, we have seen that lawyers who are also office-bearers appear before the subordinate courts along with their associates in large numbers and use pressure tactics to seek relief and if they do not get what they they are aiming toward, they hurl abuses at the judges and intimidate them to give up or to resign! This impression of lawyers has simply deteriorated the standards of our profession and has caused hurdles in the administration of justice.

When I was a law student I often wondered why civil litigation in the court of first instance did not get decided even after a lapse of twenty-five years. Now that I am in legal practice, I believe that the legal community is solely responsible for playing dilatory tactics rather than assisting the court in the expeditious dispensation of justice.

We must not forget the services of the Honorable Chief Justice of Lahore High Court, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, whose landmark judgments in the past few years have led to immense jurisprudential development in matters pertaining to taxation, minority rights, environment, education and other public interest issues. His progressive approach has resulted in the upgradation of administration services of the Lahore High Court. The lesson for young lawyers in this entire scenario is that we must understand and respect the independence of the judiciary. In a landmark judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, reported as 2014 SCMR 1289, Muhammad Aslam Awan versus Federation of Pakistan, the honorable judges delineated upon the relationship of how the concept of independence of judiciary was intertwined with the enforcement of fundamental rights and the public trust doctrine. We must learn that the concept of the independence of judiciary can only be realised if judges are accorded due respect rather than by hurling abuses at them or intimidating them to resign. We must be conscientious of the words of the French Philosopher, Descartes, “I think therefore I am”. Last but not least, the young lawyers must learn to call a spade a spade rather than becoming poodles of some office-bearing lawyers who flout professional ethics and cannot think beyond their own short-term vested-interests. I feel that the Honourable Chief Justice really wants to reform the system but is not able to find enough cushions to realize his dream of expeditious disposal of justice.

To be honest, young lawyers like me are really helpless as we cannot do anything for the honourable and revolutionary Chief Justice at this juncture, except sing a funeral song for this dream. Good luck to him!


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any organization with which he might be associated.

Sheraz Zaka

Author: Sheraz Zaka

The writer is a constitutional lawyer, human rights activist and teacher. He can be contacted at [email protected]