Clashes at LHC as lawyers attempt to break into CJ’s courtroom

LAHORE: Enraged lawyers are protesting at The Mall after attempting to break a security cordon and enter a courtroom at the Lahore High Court (LHC) where LHC Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah was heading a full bench contempt hearing against Sher Zaman Qureshi, the head of the bar association of LHC Multan bench.

Earlier, during the hearing, the LHC chief justice directed the Multan regional police officer to arrest Qureshi and another lawyer Qaiser Kazmi, and produce them in court today after they failed to appear despite repeated summons in the contempt of court case.

The bench also ordered the suspension of the lawyers’ licences. The chief justice observed during the hearing that the sanctity of the court is supreme and there will be no compromise on it.

As a result, lawyers loyal to Qureshi attempted to break into the chief justice’s courtroom and broke down a gate leading to it. The lawyers were also chanting slogans against the LHC chief justice.

The police and Rangers cordoned off the entrance to the courtroom and a tussle between the two sides ensued.

Authorities used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesting lawyers while members of the legal fraternity pelted stones at the LHC building and police personnel protecting it.

Sources said the protesting lawyers, around 200 in number, include bar members from Multan, Burewala and other areas.

They later moved to GPO Chowk and Mall Road in protest, disrupting traffic on one of the most crucial arteries of the Punjab capital.

Sources said the LHC bar association has called a strike across Punjab tomorrow, while a call for protest is likely to be given after an ’emergency meeting’ of lawyers’ bodies today.

On July 24, Qureshi and another lawyer, along with a few others, allegedly misbehaved with Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and obstructed judicial proceedings of his court at the Multan bench.

They had also allegedly vandalised and ransacked the court premises and ripped off the nameplate of the judge.

Expressing displeasure over the lawyers’ behaviour, the LHC chief justice had stopped the judges from working for the Multan bench. The incident also led to the boycott of courts of the region by lawyers’ bodies.