Says it's unfair target only lawyers
The Islamabad Bar Association has submitted an application in the Supreme Court requesting the court to review its order to demolish the chambers of lawyers in Islamabad.
On March 2, the court upheld the Islamabad High Court’s verdict to demolish the illegal chambers constructed on Islamabad’s F8 football ground and dismissed the SBCA’s appeal.
Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed in his decision said that all illegal chambers must be demolished, adding that lawyers don’t have any claim on the football ground. “If someone wants to practice, then that person can open their office somewhere else.”
Several applications against the encroachment are pending in the Islamabad High Court, the lawyers’ body said in its review appeal.
It is unfair to demolish just the lawyers’ chamber and not other structures, the application said. Real facts were not presented in the court, it said, adding that the court did not hear the arguments of the lawyers.
On February 16, the Islamabad High Court announced a similar verdict.
A 30-page judgement of a larger bench, authored by Chief Justice Athar Minallah, said that the chambers were “illegal, void and without jurisdiction and authority”. The court noted that records show that office-bearers of the Islamabad District Bar had “allotted plots in favour of some lawyers for construction of private chambers” in 2017. The bar did not obtain any “permission or authorisation from the authorities”.
The bar members have been instructed to clear the “illegal construction” and “restore the playground for public use”.
The ground is situated “next to a commercial area where the administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory had rented privately-owned buildings more than four decades ago for establishing the District Courts,” the court said. “The playground was encroached, and some construction has also been raised by a few enrolled advocates for building their private chambers.”
The people from the neighbouring buildings use the playground for “unauthorised parking”, it said.
On February 8, the lawyers in Islamabad staged a protest after their chambers at the judicial complex were destroyed by the Capital Development Authority. They also stormed the chamber of Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
An FIR was registered against them at the Ramna police station. It included Section 7 [punishment for acts of terrorism] of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the following sections of the Pakistan Penal Code:
According to the written verdict issued by a 3-member bench hearing the misconduct case against the lawyers, “The mob, after breaking open the main door of the Chief Justice’s Block, resorted to vandalising and desecrating public property.”
“Later, the chief justice and judges were held hostage for more than four hours. The judicial proceedings remained suspended for the rest of the day. The litigants were deprived of their rights and thus dispensation of justice was disrupted,” the verdict read.