KARACHI/HYDERABAD/SUKKUR: The boycott of courts by the legal fraternity entered its second consecutive day on Tuesday as lawyers continued to mourn their comrades killed in Quetta.
According to judicial officials, over 700 cases fixed for hearing before six division benches and 11 single benches at the Sindh High Court (SHC) in Karachi were adjourned. The officials informed that 30 cases relating to missing persons were among the 470 constitutional matters that also included criminal cases. On the other hand, nearly 260 lawsuits, mostly involving land disputes, were also adjourned.
Lawyers continued to boycott legal proceedings at the principal seat on the second consecutive day as part of the Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association’s call for the boycott and week-long mourning over the killings. In Karachi, lawyers did not show up in courts to plead their cases and instead stayed in the offices of the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) and the provincial bar council.
The city courts also wore a dejected look due to the strike. The Karachi Bar Association held a general body meeting in which it denounced terrorism and demanded the government to take serious measures to provide security to the people. On an average, at least 450 inmates are brought to the city courts daily for the hearing of their cases. However, on Tuesday, the number remained almost zero due to the strike. Similar scenes were also observed in Malir courts and other judicial complexes such as anti-corruption, narcotics control, customs and banking.
In Hyderabad, lawyers associated with the SHCBA and Hyderabad District Bar Association (HDBA), boycotted court proceedings and offered Ghaibana Namaz-e-Janaza [funeral prayers in absentia] for the victims of the Quetta attack, wore black armbands, raised black flags and held demonstrations. The two associations also held separate general body meetings, where the lawyers’ leaders vented their shock and dismay.
“Such attacks are meant to frighten and harass the lawyers but we won’t be cowed,” said Ayaz Tunio, president of SHCBA, Hyderabad. He blamed the security agencies for failing to curb terrorism.
HDBA president Basharat Memon recalled past attacks on lawyers as well as the suppressive measures of previous governments and said that the legal fraternity will confront all these challenges with fortitude. The two bar associations announced to continue the boycott for the third day on Wednesday (today).
Meanwhile, the protests brought functioning of the courts to a standstill and litigants, mostly from outside the Hyderabad district, were adversely affected. Lawyers belonging to several district bar associations in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah divisions also boycotted their respective courts, offered funeral prayers in absentia and held protests.
The legal fraternity in upper Sindh also stayed away from the courts to mourn their comrades. Besides staging protests and demonstrations, the lawyers also offered the funeral prayers in absentia.
As a result, a large number of petitioners had to go back without having their cases heard. The lawyers also staged demonstrations in different cities and towns.
In Sukkur, a large number of lawyers gathered at the premises of the district and sessions court and staged a demonstration. The protesting lawyers shouted slogans against terrorists and in favour of the independent judiciary and legal fraternity.
Speaking on the occasion, general secretary of SHCBA, Sukkur, Hadi Bhatt, condemned the suicide bombing in Quetta. “Such cowardly attacks cannot stop lawyers and journalists, who are struggling for human rights,” he said. Meanwhile, security in the courts was stepped up to avert any untoward incident. Everyone visiting the courts was properly checked before being allowed entry.
Tending injured: CM visits Quetta blast victims
Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah visited Aga Khan University Hospital on Tuesday to inquire about the health of those injured in the Quetta blast.
The chief minister assured the injured of his full support and the government’s cooperation and prayed for their early recovery. Shah was accompanied by provincial ministers Manzoor Wassan, Dr Sikander Mandhro and his adviser on law Murtaza Wahab.
Shah also visited the entry and exit points of the city courts buildings on Tuesday and issued necessary directives to the authorities. During the visit, Karachi additional inspector-general Mushatq Maher briefed the CM about security measures taken to protect the premises.
Talking to the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Kamran Murtaza, the CM assured him that the government was providing necessary security to the lawyers and the judiciary. He also discussed security arrangements, which have been made by the provincial government, with Sindh Bar Council vice-president Salahuddin Ahmed and Sindh High Court Bar Association general-secretary Mubin Lakho.