A group of lawyers locked up the courtroom of Judicial Magistrate Zafar Iqbal Sial on Saturday after one of them was nominated in an FIR over an assault on a naib qasid.
According to sources at the Model Town courts, Maqsood Butt, munshi (clerk) of Advocate Qamar Shahid Meo, went to the courtroom of Judicial Magistrate Aneeq Anwar Chaudhry to obtain a copy of an order. Naib Qasid Tauqeer Abbas told him that he couldn’t give him a copy as the judge had not signed the order.
The two got into a heated argument and then came to blows. Some colleagues of Butt’s, including one identified as Rafiq, came to the scene and thrashed Abbas, breaking his left arm.
Court staff then boycotted their jobs, saying they would not return to work until the men who beat up Abbas were arrested. The judges tried to get them to return to work, but they resisted. Judicial Magistrate Zafar Iqbal Sial then directed the police to register an FIR against the culprits.
The judges again urged the staffers to return to work, but they said they would not do so until arrests were made. They boycotted their duties on Friday, but returned to work on Saturday.
Naseerabad police registered an FIR against Advocate Qamar Shahid Meo, Maqsood Butt, Rafiq, Nazir alias Billa, Rana Wafaq and eight unidentified men under Sections 147 (rioting), 149 (conspiracy), 186 (obstructing a public servant from his duty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Advocate Meo told The Express Tribune that he had forced the staff out of the magistrate’s courtroom and locked it on Saturday to protest against his nomination in the FIR. He said that his staff had been involved in the incident, but he had no direct involvement and hence he should not have been nominated. He said that Sial had nominated him.
He also said that his men had not beaten up the staffer, but vice versa. He said that staff working for Magistrates Sial, Chaudhry and Mian Ijaz had treated his men in Sial’s retiring room “as constables treat members of the public at police stations”. They had been searched and their mobile phones and cash had been confiscated.
Meo said that he would lodge a complaint at Naseerabad police station against the three magistrates and their staff for beating up his men. The complainant would be Rana Waqas, another clerk, who would state that he and his colleagues Rafique and Maqsood had been beaten up by the staff on the direction of the judges.
Sial told The Express Tribune that his courtroom had been locked by the lawyers and they had threatened him, saying they would get him transferred to a far-flung area. He said that the FIR had been registered on his say-so, but he denied nominating Meo.
The police refused to answer questions about who the complainant in the case was and who had handed them the application for an FIR.
LBA Model Town Vice President Irfan Basra said that the judge had set a “strange precedent” by nominating a lawyer in the FIR when the lawyer was not even present at the scene. Such things should be resolved through talks rather than by force, he said.
He said that he condemned the locking of courtrooms, but the judge had been in the wrong. The LBA had also verbally condemned the locking up of an office at the Model Town courts a few days earlier, but no action was taken against any lawyer.
Basra said that he had spoken with the judge and the lawyer’s name would likely be removed from the FIR within a day or two.
On May 15, some lawyers locked up the sub registrar’s office at the Model Town courts in protest against the sub registrar’s alleged lengthy absences, which they said had resulted in property transfer registrations being delayed.
On February 26, some two dozen lawyers manhandled staff and locked up the offices of five magistrates at the district and sessions court for the whole day, in protest against a change in the procedure by which traffic fines are paid. No action was taken against the lawyers.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.