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Pakistan lawyers renew courts boycott over ousted chief justice

[JURIST] The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) [profession website] on Monday launched a new nationwide boycott of the courts to protest President Pervez Musharraf's November ouster of Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] and to demand his reinstatement and that of other ousted superior court judges. Chaudhry and the other judges were effectively dismissed on November 3 [JURIST report] after Musharraf suspended the country's constitution and declared emergency rule [proclamation, PDF]. Chaudhry has been under virtual house arrest since at least November 5 [JURIST report], when an Army major locked him in his residence and took the keys. He has not been allowed to leave since, and police have blocked would-be visitors. Chaudhry was deposed as the country anticipated a Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] on whether Musharraf had been eligible to run for re-election as Pakistan's president while still army chief. He and the other ousted judges have since been formally retired [JURIST report], although they and their supporters insist that they still legally hold office under Pakistan's constitution.

The PBC eased a previous courts boycott [JURIST report] in January because the backlog it caused was reportedly creating hardship for civil litigants and criminal defendants. On Friday, the reconstituted Pakistan Supreme Court swore in two additional judges [JURIST report] to bring its total membership to 16, a move expected to allow it to handle more cases. AP has more.

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