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PHOTOS: Lawyers back to work in Pakistan? Not exactly...

Anonymous [advocate, Lahore High Court]: "The Lahore High Court on 27 Nov appears to have returned to normalcy; many people, many cars, many lawyers in their robes.

Interestingly, resolutions have been passed by different legal forums including the LHC Bar Association validating a boycott of the new breed of judges, the PCO Judges who have sworn oaths under the declaration of emergency.

It's easy to get confused about why everything appeared normal this morning, but keep these points in mind:

  1. A number of lawyers do not belong to wealthy backgrounds. They are hardworking professionals with no permanent source of income, and are lately finding it difficult to maintain a balance between a rebellious heart and the cruel realities of life.

  2. Lawyers working in Criminal Law are finding it difficult to maintain a boycott in strict sense. A client is apprehending humiliation in the hands of the police department and seeks pre-arrest bail; someone has to represent him. Another client already in judicial custody had moved bail application on Nov 2 and the case is now fixed for Nov 27. The counsel would represent him because counsel's absence would amount to the denial of a possible relief. A person had appealed five years ago against the death sentence awarded to him; the execution of sentence was postponed subject to the fate of the appeal. It already took five years for the appeal waiting for its turn and now it is fixed for Nov 27; someone will argue the case on behalf of the appellant so as to probably save him from gallows.

  3. Corporate lawyers are also hard pressed for the reason that corporate clients do not tolerate absence of their legal representative once a case is called. Huge investments, huge monetary interests, cross border transactions, liquidation proceedings, auction of properties, insurance matters, recovery of banks' loans are involved.

  4. Reasons number 2 and 3 above could have been no reasons at all if a little amount of leniency had been demonstrated by the new judges. Till last week, the practice was to send a notice to the party that his counsel did not appear and that he must do something. From this week, counsel's absence has straightaway started resulting in dismissal of petitions.

  5. Keeping in view the apprehension of a dismissal right away, senior lawyers have started sending their junior colleagues to the courts that go there and simply seek an adjournment which is 'very graciously' granted.

  6. Unfortunately, there are many 'black sheep' who are taking it as a golden chance of not merely minting some money but also attempting to win the heart of the administration so as to get paid for such loyalty in a variety of ways.
In short, almost eighty percent of the lawyers present in the premises were not there tracking their cases. They were there merely to see what was going on; and everything is certainly not going well. Those who have been baton-charged, arrested, humiliated, tortured, made to sleep on cold floors during detention, denied medical treatment, shifted to far-flung areas will not forget what hardships they had to go through. They are not boycotting the institution of the Lahore High Court; they are boycotting individual judges."

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