The Supreme Court Bar Association’s (SCBA) annual elections scheduled to be held on Friday are crucial in the prevailing political circumstances.
Independent Lawyers Group, known as Asma Group, has fielded Advocate Khalid Javed for the slot of SCBA president while Professional Lawyers Group, known as Hamid Khan Group, has nominated Advocate Abid Zuberi for the same post. Both candidates belong to Sindh.
All major political parties, especially the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are taking a keen interest in the SCBA elections.
PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) are backing Advocate Zuberi as their candidate. Even PTI Senator Ali Zafar, who was associated with the Asma Group, is supporting Advocate Zuberi.
A lawyer close to Senator Zafar said this time there is a big split in the independent group. He claimed that Senator Zafar, along with several of his fellows, are supporting Advocate Zuberi for the presidency and Muqtadar for the secretary slot to protest the politicisation of the bars by senior representatives of the Independent Lawyers Group.
"We represent the true spirit of the Asma Group,” he said.
However, the lawyer said that for the rest of the posts there is consensus on candidates in the Independent Group.
“We are, therefore, opposing Professional Group for those seats. This time there is a third force coming to the scene," said Senator Zafar while talking to The Express Tribune.
It has also been learned that unlike in the past, the Chaudhry Pervez Elahi-led Punjab government is fully backing Advocate Zuberi.
On the other hand, the representatives of the Asma Group are very confident that they will emerge victorious in the elections on account of the welfare projects for lawyers as well as their individual contacts with lawyers all over the country. Recently Ahsan Bhoon, the president of the same group, distributed allotment letters for the plots of the lawyers’ housing society.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) lawyers are fully backing the Asma Group. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is divided as Sardar Latif Khosa is backing Advocate Zuberi. However, Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) will support the Independent Group’s candidate.
Former Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Amjad Shah, who is associated with the Asma Group, said that all candidates of the Independent Group will win the election on Friday.
He contended that they always stand with rule of law and independence of the judiciary. Even Shah defended the superior bars’ role to ensure the process of no-confidence against former prime minister Imran Khan under Article 95 of the constitution.
Independent Group is facing difficulty as several lawyers are angry for not being considered by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, who is an active member of the group, for the appointment of law officers. Even the law officers who were removed by the present regime are backing Advocate Zuberi. Similarly, retired judges especially two chief justices are supporting Abid Zuberi.
Though Advocate Zuberi is a good candidate, the rival Independent Group is more organised to ensure the victory of its candidate for the presidency, a lawyer told The Express Tribune. He said that unlike in the past, a close contest is expected in these elections.
The powerful quarters of the country also take the SCBA elections seriously. However, it is witnessed that both groups have almost similar views on the elevation of high court judges to the SC on the basis of the seniority principle.
Recently Tarar, being law minister, supported Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial’s nominees of junior high court judges for appointment as SC judges.
Though he resigned on account of his support for junior judges on the instruction of the government the damage has already been done. There is a low chance that his resignation will be useful in the SCBA elections.