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IHC Bar Association restores 60 lawyers’ membership after 24 hours

ISLAMABAD: The membership of 60 Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) members has been restored a day after it was suspended for not responding to a strike call by the Pakistan Bar Council and the Islamabad Bar Council (IBC), it emerged on Saturday.

According to a notification issued by the IHCBA, the membership was restored with immediate effect till the IBC decides the references against these lawyers.

As lawyers in the capital observed a nationwide strike on Friday, the ICHBA had also decided to boycott an oath-taking ceremony for new judges at the high court over the IHC chief justice’s decision to suspend the practising licence of IHCBA Secretary Umair Baloch.

A letter written by the joint secretary of the IHCBA, Advocate Waqar Ahmed Gondal, to the IBC vice chairman Haroon Rashid stated: “Despite strike notice issued by the Pakistan Bar Council as well as Islamabad Bar Council, the following lawyers have disobeyed the directions issued by your good office, therefore, their membership of Islamabad High Court Bar Association is suspended forthwith.

“[…] And this reference is forwarded for necessary disciplinary action, as your good self has already announced [an] order of the suspension of their respective licenses to practice for one month,” the letter added, in an apparent reference to a speech by Rashid in which he said that the licences of the lawyers who did not observe the strike would be suspended.

On Friday, lawyers across the country, on the call of legal bodies, boycotted courts to protest against the registration of cases against those lawyers who were arrested for their involvement in the rampage at Lahore’s Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) earlier this week.

The lawyers were responding to a strike call by the PBC. A notification issued by the PBC had said the protest was “against partial and biased conduct of the local police and the administration of Lahore against the lawyers as well as action taken by the Islamabad High Court against the secretary general, Islamabad High Court Bar Association”.

On Thursday, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had decided to suspend Baloch’s practising licence while the high court also issued a show-cause notice to him for “professional misconduct and contempt”.

He was reported to have been forcing lawyers not to appear before judges as the IHCBA was observing a strike against alleged offences against the legal fraternity in Lahore on Wednesday.

Some lawyers had suggested disrupting Friday’s oath-taking ceremony but IHCBA President Raja Inam Ameen Minhas rejected the proposal.

He said the bar association would neither obstruct the ceremony nor stage any protest on roads. He, however, said it was the right of the lawyers to express their reservations, for which bar rooms were the appropriate forum.

Later, lawyers assembled in the bar room where PBC vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah, Rashid and the IHCBA president criticised the suspension of Baloch’s licence. They also planned to assemble when Baloch appears in court to respond to the show-cause notice on December 19.

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