The Sindh High Court was forced to reschedule the hearing of a case of a detained lawyer from the minority Ahmadiyya community to May 22, after Muslim lawyers caused a ruckus at the court premises on Monday, reports said.
Advocate Ali Ahmed Tariq was arrested on April 27 in Karachi after a Muslim lawyer lodged a First Information Report [FIR] against him for using “Syed” in his name. This is the second time Advocate Tariq has been booked on this charge since November last year.
Lawyer Abdul Moiz Jaffery tweeted on Tuesday that the counsels representing Tariq were intimidated by other lawyers when they appeared for the bail application of their client. He added that of the two lawyers representing the Ahmadi man, one got injured when a fellow lawyer attacked him.
According to a media report, the judge criticised the aggressive behaviour of Muslim lawyers and ordered stern action against those responsible from the Sindh Bar Council, SHC Bar Association, Karachi Bar Association, and Malir Bar Association. The order expressed shame that such individuals were allowed to use the title “advocate” next to their names, calling their conduct a disgrace to the legal profession, the report stated quoting the court’s order.
While the court exercised restraint to protect lawyers, court staff, and property, it emphasised that the belligerence exhibited by some advocates would not hinder the case’s fair adjudication on its merits. The written order cited a lawyer named Akbar Jatoi’s physical abuse toward the applicant’s counsel and noted that CCTV footage would reveal the unacceptable behaviour of the advocates.
The judge also requested the SHC chief justice to ensure appropriate security measures for every hearing of this case to safeguard the respect and dignity of the courts against unscrupulous individuals masquerading as advocates.
The order concluded by stating that only two parties and their counsels would be allowed in the courtroom, along with members of the press to facilitate a transparent hearing.
Advocate Tariq was booked by the City Court Police Station under Section 298-B (misuse of epithets, descriptions, and titles, etc, reserved for certain holy personages or places) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
In the FIR, complainant Advocate Mohammed Azhar Khan had stated that during an appearance before a district judge, he observed that Advocate Tariq had used “Syed” with his name in the affidavit while pleading a case.
The complainant had said that Tariq was an Ahmadi who had deliberately affixed “Syed” with his name. He, therefore, requested for a case to be registered against Advocate Tariq.
City Courts Station House Officer (SHO) Adil Khan told a media outlet that members of the Ahmadiyya community were not supposed to call themselves Muslims or present themselves as ‘Ahle Bait’ under relevant laws.
He had added that Tariq was booked after he “misrepresented himself” as a “Syed” while submitting his affidavit in the court as a lawyer.
“The police have taken action and arrested the lawyer who would likely be presented before the court on Friday,” SHO Khan had said.
Earlier, an Ahmadi lawyer who defends members of the community accused of blasphemy, was attacked with a cleaver by a man associated with Madrasa Khatam-e-Nabuwat, in his chamber in Chiniot district.
The attacker had previously attacked another Ahmadi man and is known to be violent towards the minority community.
According to a FIR, the attacker identified as Zubair Anwar attacked lawyer Amir Munir in his chamber with a cleaver. Before attacking, Zubair had referred to the cases filed against the Ahmadi community members the lawyer was defending.
Ahmadis number about 4 million in Pakistan, but the community has been forbidden to call itself Muslim since 1974 by the Pakistani Constitution which considers them “infidels”.
Resultantly, Ahmadis are not even allowed to call their houses of prayer “mosques,” while basic religious practices associated with Islam are forbidden for them.