Islamabad High Court
Advocate Zahid Mehmood Raja has been elected President of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA). Image Credit: Agency

Islamabad: A lawyer currently in jail and facing charges of storming the Islamabad High Court (IHC) building has been elected President of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Bar Association for the year 2021-22.

The victory of a ‘trouble-maker’ advocate to the top slot of the Bar indicates that the current lawyers-judges differences are not going to resolve in the coming days as both the sides are sticking to their stance.

The newly-elected president Zahid Mehmood Raja has won against Naveed Hayat Malik who is also in jail facing the similar charges.

They are among 400 lawyers who allegedly stormed the IHC building on Feb 8, injuring the IHC’s staff. They were protesting against demolition of their chambers by the Islamabad administration and demanding action against them.

Football ground

The administration on the other hand said the chambers were constructed on a football ground and thus were illegal and an encroachment on government land.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah who was in his chamber on that day was taken hostage by the protesting lawyers and was released only after the invention of the judges of the IHC and senior lawyers.

After the incident took place, Justice Minallah declared there would be zero tolerance against the lawyers who showed disrespect to the court as well as the law of the land.

He directed the police to register cases against them. The court also initiated contempt proceedings against them.

The Islamabad Police registered an FIR against 21 lawyers under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Twelve of them were arrested but later three were released on bail. Police a day earlier again arrested two more lawyers for storming the court’s building and vandalizing the Chief Justice Block.

Currently there are 11 lawyers behind the bars. In Saturday’s elections of the IHCBA, Zahid Mehmood Raja secured 585 votes while Naveed Malik bagged 486 votes.

According to the results, Tasadduq Hanif was elected Secretary of the Bar with 767 against 298 votes of Chaudhry Tanveer Akhtar. Tasadduq Hanif is also facing charges of contempt of court and a case of attack on the IHC building.

Withdrawal cases

The Islamabad Bar Council (IBC), IHCBA and the District Bar Association in a joint statement have already called for withdrawal of cases against these lawyers.

The outgoing secretary of the IHC Bar, Sohail Chaudhry while talking to Gulf News on Sunday termed the victory of Zahid Raja and Tasadduq Hanif a show of confidence by the 2,163 members of the IHC bar in their leadership.

About the issue of the arrested lawyers and addressing the lack of confidence between the bench and the bar, he hoped the new cabinet would address the issue in a mature and professional way.