Defying the Advocate General’s (AG) order for the postponement of the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) meeting, more than 50 per cent of the council’s members elected Mehmoodul Hasan advocate as the council’s vice-chairman for the year 2009.
Although AG Sindh Yousuf Laghari, who is also Chairman SBC, had ordered on Thursday the postponement of the council’s meeting till February 15, the meeting of 26 SBC members chaired by outgoing Vice-Chairman Muzafar Laghari termed the order as unlawful and held the meeting for the election of new vice-chairman and heads of SBC committees.
Besides 26 members, three SBC members, including former Sindh High Court Bar Association President Abrar Hasan, and Pakistan Muslim League (N) Lawyers Forum’s leader Faheem Riaz Siddiqui, also attended the meeting but abstained from voting after submitting their points of view.
Abrar Hasan raised objection over the holding of election following the postponement order by the AG, while SBC member Faheem Riaz Siddiqui urged the council to adjourn the meeting for two or three days as a controversy has arisen on the election issue and it might harm the unity of lawyers.
However, majority members did not agree with the suggestions and observed that the meeting was summoned by the signatures of the chairman and vice-chairman too, and that, as per section 9 of the rules, the date, time and place of the meeting can be changed by the chairman only if more than 50 per cent of the members express their desire in writing for the same. Such desire had not been expressed by the members.
On the other hand, the AG termed the election illegal and void ab initio, saying that only the chairman has the power to conduct the election and convene the meeting. He said that the meeting was deferred so that the election process on the vacant seat of the Pakistan Bar Council could be completed first. However, his advice was turned down by the SBC members and consequently he postponed the meeting till February 15.
Referring to Section 8 of the Sindh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council rules that ordinary meetings of the Bar council may be convened by the chairman, he said that the next meeting of the council would be held on February 15 and warned that the newly-elected vice-chairman and committees of the council would not be allowed to work.
The newly-elected Vice-Chairman Mehmoodul Hasan, who is also a leader of the lawyers’ body National Coordination Council, which is struggling for the reinstatement of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, said that the SBC meeting was lawful since a majority of the members were present there. He said that, in the wake of amendments in Legal Practitioners and Bar Council rules, the vice-chairman has the power to conduct the election. “In any manner, the AG has no right to postpone the meeting without following the rules,” he declared.
He announced that the SBC would actively participate in the lawyers’ long march for the reinstatement of the deposed Chief Justice and the independence of the judiciary.
The meeting also condoled the death of Bashir Sheikh and Nizamuddin advocates and SBC employee Rajab Ali and offered Fateha for the departed souls. After taking charge as Vice-Chairman, Mehmoodul Hasan set aside the AG’s order that summoned the meeting on February 15 and adjourned the council meeting.
The following members have been elected as chairmen and heads of SBC committees:
Ali Mohammad Dahri, Chairman, Executive Committee; Abdul Razak Mahar, Chairman, Disciplinary Committee; Abdul Sattar Kazi, Chairman, Benevolent Fund Committee; Abdul Hakeem Bijarani, Law Reform Committee; Ghulam Mohammad Abbasi, Law General Committee; Aaqil Khan Lodhi, Legal Aid and Human Rights Committee; Sher Mohammad Wasan, Legal Education Committee; Abdul Aziz Sheikh, Library Committee; Abbas Ali advocate, Roll Committee; Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, Rules Committee; Mohammad Iqbal Qasar, Anti-corruption Committee; Abdul Haleem Siddiqui, Construction Committee; and Khawja Mansoor, Inter-provincial Committee.