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Lawyers stage sit-in

KARACHI: After a gap of two days, the legal fraternity resumed its province-wide boycott of court proceedings on Tuesday, demanding the transfer of the district and sessions judge Malir who had imposed a ban on the commercial use of a reverse-osmosis (RO) plant installed on the premises of Malir courts.

The Malir Bar Association (MBA) has been observing astrike for around 10 days apparently after District and Sessions Judge Sadaf Khokhar imposed the ban on the commercial use of the RO plant.

On Tuesday morning, lawyers`representatives locked the main gates of Sindh High Court (SHC), blocking the entry of litigants and staged a sit-in outside the chamber of the chief justice of the high court.

Legal proceedings remained suspended atthe city courts and district courts in Malir as the lawyers stayed away from courts.They said they had also met the chief justice, asking him to take action against the district judge for what they termed her non-cooperative behaviour with lawyers, but to no avail.

In a resolution issued on Tuesday, the Sindh Bar Council (SBC), along with the leadership of the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), Karachi Bar Association (KBA) and MBA, said the province-wide strike was also observed on May 19 and May 20, but no action had so farbeen taken against the judge concerned.

Therefore, it maintained, it was unanimously decided to observe a complete strike on Wednesday (today), stage another sit-in outside the CJ`s chamber, where a general body would also be held.

On Tuesday also, the lawyers` leadership addressed a general body outside the chamber of the CJ and sought transfer of the district judge.

Speaking about the issue of RO plant, Malir Bar secretaryHafeez Baloch was of the view that it was not being used for commercial purposes.

He maintained that since the bar did not have sufficient funds to run the RO plant, it was handed over to `some friends` to keep it functional. `We are ready to hand over the RO plant to the judiciary,` he added.

The lawyers` protest began when the district and sessions judge Malir sent a letter to the SHC registrar stating that on May 11 she received a report from a senior civil judge/ supervising officer that the water of the RO plant was being sold commercially. After verifying the fact, the district judge issued an office order restricting the commercial use of the RO plant. However, the bar announced a strike and judicial officers were advised to work from their chambers, it added.

In a statement, the Women Lawyers Association (WLA) condemned the behaviour of bar associations against the district and sessions judge Malir.

`Such unethicalactions go against the rules of conduct and behaviour of the legal community. While the Sindh Bar Council is equipped with the power to discipline lawyers, it is unfortunate that they have aligned with the Malir Bar Association against the lawful actions taken by Judge Khokhar,` it added The WLA also urged the SHC chief justice to take strict action against the MBA.