August Issue 2009

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 15 years ago

Are lawyers and legislators exempt from the law of the land?

Increasingly, it appears to be so, given the manner in which they have taken to violating the law of the land with impunity. TV audiences were shocked to see footage of four lawyers thrashing an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) ruthlessly, ostensibly for his damning investigation indicting a client of one of the lawyers who was involved in a kidnapping case.  Two journalists of a private TV channel who attempted to film the ugly incident were also subjected to violence; one was left with a bleeding forehead and the other a broken camera.

What’s more, instead of showing any remorse, the lawyers proceeded to humiliate the district and sessions judge, who had registered the ASI’s FIR. Further, they got the Lahore Bar Association to block the entry of all journalists from the court premises.

The long march for the restoration and independence of the judiciary, which was defined as the legal fraternity’s finest hour, has ostensibly led to quite a few swollen heads. There have been reports of lawyers misbehaving with politicians and fellow lawyers who do not share their political views, and the consistent harassment of women lawyers and, in one instance, even a family court judge. Those who should be upholding the law have turned into law-breakers and are indulging in acts that are demeaning to their black coats. Disappointingly enough, there is little or no censure from within their ranks.

Not lagging far behind are the self-professed “champions” of the lawyer’s movement, the PML-N. One finds it hard to believe that the Punjab chief minister did not have prior knowledge of his son’s decision to import a rare species of Siberian tigers, which is forbidden by international law. How could the son have secured an import license without his father’s intervention — or could he?

Given the transgressions at the top, should one then be surprised if a PML-N legislator gets his nephew to appear on his behalf in the F.A. exams? Or be appalled by the brazenness of the woman legislator who was caught on camera shopping for jewellery with a stolen credit card? In fact, the Leaguers tried their best to cover up the crime and even suspended a cop for “leaking” the story to the media. It was only when the media heat became unbearable that the lady was asked to resign.

But resignations are not easy to come by. More so if the defaulter is a top gun. The PPP revenue minister, who, with the aid of his minions, assaulted cops to secure the release of his supporters who were apprehended for aerial firing, is still in office. One of the perks of being an elected representative or a lawyer — the law ostensibly doesn’t apply!

What does the Supreme Court intend to do about these law-breakers, who demand that dictators be brought to justice, while they roam around scot-free? Surely, this is not the way of the democrat — or democracy, where all are equal before the law.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.