Lawyers across Pakistan went on strike on Thursday and boycotted court proceedings against the appointment of junior judges to the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP).
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Latif Afridi informed Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed of the protest through a letter sent on August 21.
The two major pillars of the judiciary, the bench and the bar have been drifting away from each other for the past few days, following differences over the appointment of judges to the apex court that also led to protests by the legal fraternity at various levels.
Today, the lawyers boycotted the court on the call of various bar organisations including the Sindh High Court Bar Association, Pakistan Bar Council, SCBA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council.
Due to the strike, counsels did not represent the petitioners whereas only government lawyers appeared before the apex court in two cases. The petitioners sat in the corridors of the court whereas the court staff kept calling the names of lawyers and clerks who did not appear.
A heavy contingent of police was also deployed on the occasion and the parking lot of the court was also closed due to security concerns as the lawyers gathered at the SC to protest.
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They demanded that judges be appointed in the SC on the basis of seniority under the traditional procedure.
“Our protest is peaceful,” one of the protesting lawyers said.
In addition, CJP Gulzar Ahmed had summoned a meeting of the JCP today to consider Justice Ayesha Malik, who is number four on the LHC judge seniority list, for her appointment as a Supreme Court judge.
In August, it was reported that there have been controversies over the past few years, regarding the rules of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) – the forum responsible for the nomination of judges for the superior judiciary.
Differences erupted between the lawyers and the higher judiciary over the appointment of Justice Mazhar of the SHC to the SC. At the SHC, Justice Mazhar was fifth on the seniority list.
Following the appointment of Justice Mazhar, the PBC called a nationwide strike, besides staging protests at all levels.