LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has directed police to arrest and produce in court a lawyers’ association leader by September 8.
The order was given by a larger bench headed by LHC Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah on Tuesday which was hearing a contempt of court case against Sher Zaman Qureshi, head of the bar association of LHC Multan bench, and another lawyer Qaiser Abbas Kazmi.
During the hearing, Multan regional police officer submitted a progress report following the court’s Monday’s order to arrest and produce Qureshi in court today.
The police official said several raids have been conducted in Multan, Qureshi’s hometown, but he is yet to be traced. Following this, the court gave the police until September 8 to ensure Qureshi’s presence in court.
Sources said the police have arrested Qureshi’s brother and nephew in a bid to pressure him to give himself up.
Lawyers call strike after arrest order triggers clashes at LHC
Meanwhile, lawyers across the country are observing a strike today against Monday’s ‘police brutality’ and to press the LHC to take back Qureshi’s arrest orders.
Protests are under way in Multan and other areas while a major rally is planned by the Karachi Bar Council at MA Jinnah Road around noon.
Police have increased security at the LHC building and blocked entrances to it by placing containers.
Clashes at LHC
On Monday, hearing the contempt of court case against Qureshi for misbehaving with a judge last month, the LHC had ordered his arrest and cancellation of licence after he repeatedly ignore summons to appear before the court.
The chief justice had observed during the hearing that the sanctity of the court is supreme and there will be no compromise on it.
The court termed Qureshi’s conduct ‘most unbecoming and demeaning, that blatantly offends the prestige and honour of this court’.
Following the order, enraged lawyers loyal to Qureshi attempted to forcibly enter the courtroom, breaking the gate of a corridor and chanted slogans against the chief justice inside the LHC building.
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.
Lawyers and police personnel during Monday’s clashes at LHC. Photo: Geo News
The protesting lawyers later moved to GPO Chowk and Mall Road in protest, disrupting traffic on one of the most crucial arteries of the Punjab capital.
In Multan, lawyers of the high court and lower courts began protesting against the incident in Lahore at Multan’s Kacheri Chowk as news got out.
The Multan city police officer raided Qureshi’s office to arrest him but could not find him there. He then went to the district bar but Qureshi was still nowhere to be seen.
Sources said Qureshi has gone off the grid and was last seen escaping the district bar on a motorcycle — which was caught on camera.
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 of the LHC.
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.