Karachi: The Sindh Bar Council (SBC) validated the controversial January 30 council meeting that elected its new Vice-Chairman (VC) by ruling that the outgoing VC could conduct elections in the absence of the SBC Chairman.
Out of 41 SBC members, 21 voted that the election of the VC conducted by the outgoing VC on January 30 is valid while 19 members suggested that the meeting was invalid and one vote was rejected by the chairman.
Mehmoodul Hasan advocate, also a leader of the lawyers’ National Coordination Council (NCC) which is struggling for the restoration of deposed chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, was elected as the VC by more than 50 per cent members of the SBC on January 30, defying the chairman’s order for the postponement of the election meeting till February 15. The members justifying the election conducted by the outgoing VC termed the chairman’s postponement order of the meeting as unlawful.
Advocate General (AG) Sindh Yousuf Leghari, who is also the SBC Chairman, had refused to accept the meeting and announced that the meeting to be held on February 15 as per schedule contending that election of the council could only be conducted by the chairman.
As many as 41 members of the SBC, including Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, attended the council meeting either to support the January 30 election of the VC or vote against the meeting with a demand to hold fresh election of the VC and heads of other committees of the council.
The SBC meeting witnessed a heated debate between the members of the council over holding the election in the absence of the chairman while some members also exchanged strong words during the meeting.
SBC members including Abdul Haleem Siddiqui, Noor Naz Agha, Muzafar Leghari, Ali Mohammad Dahri and Amin Lakhani, who supported the election of the VC, said that no violation was made in the January 30 meeting that was fixed as per schedule in accordance with the relevant rules and on the notice of the AG.
They said that more than 50 per cent members expressed their right by electing the VC and other heads of the committees while other members deliberately chose to remain absent from the meeting.
They said that the meeting was summoned by the signatures of the Chairman and Vice Chairman and as per Section 9 of the rules, the date, time and place might be only changed by the chairman if more than 50 per cent of the total number of the members express their desire in writing for the change of date, time and place of the meeting and such an exercise was not made by the members.
Soomro, Sathi M. Ishaque, Salahuddin Gandapur and others however strongly opposed the January 30 meeting and holding of the election of VC and other committees of the Bar.
To resolve the controversy, SBC member Agha suggested that the validity of January 30 meeting could be decided through voting either by raising of hands or secret balloting. The proposal was endorsed by the majority of the Bar members.
Announcing the results after the counting of votes, the chairman said that 21 members declared the January 30 meeting and election of VC as valid and lawful while 19 members suggested that the meeting was invalid while one vote was rejected. Consequently, the election of VC and other committees were declared valid through voting as majority members ruled that the outgoing VC could conduct election of VC in absence of AG and resolve the VC poll controversy amicably.
Talking to journalists after the Bar meeting, Vice-Chairman Mehmoodul Hasan said that the government once again failed to achieve its desired results from the Bar as majority of lawyers completely supported the lawyers’ movement for restoration of rule of law and deposed CJP Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Soomro said he accepted the decision of majority members even the difference were of just one vote.