Zafar Aziz Chaudhry
Legal Practice is one of the noblest and most challenging of all professions. Noblest, because it seeks relief and justice to the wronged persons within the parameters of law, and challenging because it is the hardest profession requiring extreme mental and physical labour and hard-work without any perks or support from government or any other agency.
A new entrant enters the profession with dreams of becoming great personages who started their careers as lawyers, like Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar and Jawahirlal Nehru etc. but to his dismay, he finds that despite having a professional law degree he has no office to sit, no staff to aid or assist him in his task which too he has to earn as a part of his profession after he gains sufficient recognition as a lawyer.
In the initial years of his legal practice, he has to work as an apprentice under some senior lawyer, who engages him in odd tasks of seeking adjournments from the courts, or making attendance on behalf of his senior. This work does not involve his real performance as a lawyer, and for a number of years this routine continues till he attracts his own clients and only then his real task of preparing his cases and arguing them before the court starts. During all this long period, he works, so to say, in thunder, sunshine or rain with little or no earning to support his family.
Fearing this up-hill task, most entrants leave this profession. Those who continue as young lawyers are frustrated and suffer from various complexes; hence it is no surprise if they resort to violence and behave most un-civilly on petty matters which they feel have hurt their ego. By their unprofessional behavior they in fact display their grouse against this entire order which has kept them poor and jobless.
As against them, other professionals like doctors and accountants etc. after getting their degrees are paid for their house jobs during their periods of internships from their institutions where they serve. Only young lawyers are a segment of professionals who have to eke out their livelihood without any subsistence or help from any quarter. During their apprenticeship, they are not paid any stipend, salary or allowance.
Their majority is threatening and the fear of their retaliation is such that their insanity cannot be checked by any agency
During the last two decades, we have witnessed several shameful incidents where judges have been besieged and beaten, courtrooms have been severely damaged, roads have been blocked, policemen are also beaten or maltreated and even the entire civic life has been brought to a standstill.
Newspapers and all social media have bitterly condemned their unprofessional behavior, but no one has ever tried to find out what has really gone wrong with this community in black robes to overnight turn into the most diabolical force on earth.
To look after the interests of legal fraternity in Pakistan, two enactments, namely the Legal Practitioner and Bar Council Act 1973 and Pakistan Legal and Practitioner Bar Council Rules 1976 lay down provisions empowering Pakistan Bar Council to enact rules and mechanism for patronizing and reforming the lot of lawyers. It is most regretful to point out that the Pakistan Bar council or their local counterparts have nearly done nothing to ameliorate the worst conditions prevailing in the legal fraternity.
The Pakistan Bar Council has been empowered to safeguard the rights, privileges and interests of advocates including initiation of measures for fair and inexpensive dispensation of justice by the subordinate courts; and to suggest law reforms, but nothing seems to have been done in this direction. The federal and Provincial Bar Councils have also been empowered to take stern disciplinary action against lawyers who indulge in hooliganism, and violate the sanctity of courts and judicial officers, through their own committees of enquiry.
Countless incidents of violence by young lawyers have occurred (like cases of Punjab Institute of cardiology in Lahore where even 4 persons lost their lives, and in Multan, courts were sacrileged and their officials were mercilessly beaten) but nothing has come out of the these sordid happenings. No culprits were proceeded against nor were any lawyers punished by the Bar Councils for their heinously criminal acts. Ironically, when the lawyers in large numbers go on the rampage to uproot the system, the law enforcing agencies even have to run away for safety. The courts too dread them from taking contempt proceedings against them. Their majority is threatening and the fear of their retaliation is such that their insanity cannot be checked by any agency. The Bar Councils being the elective bodies by the lawyers of Pakistan, have not the temerity to take action against delinquents for fear of losing their votes in the next election.
It is despite the fact that all matters pertaining to management, administration, utilization and investment of the fund have been placed at the disposal of Bar Councils to keep their community in line and in good behavior. But Bar councils have miserably failed to exercise the powers vested in them.
The Pakistan Bar Council has already formulated many rules relating to the employees’ pension, service, free legal aid, etc. but still fails to redress the woes of young lawyers/new entrants. This deprivation of their fundamental rights creates frustration among young lawyers. As a result many of them are forced to leave the profession.
Comparatively, the Rules of Pakistan Medical & Dental Council 2016 framed under Pakistan Medical Dental Council Ordinance 1962 state that all public and private institutions shall be responsible to provide paid house jobs to their graduates. Unfortunately, in the legal profession, there is neither any such policy nor any rules framed under the Act or the Rules which could address any stipend/salary or honourarium for young law graduates.
In 2004 in a reported case, the Lahore High Court held that by framing the fundamental laws for protection of citizens and allowing them equal opportunities to honourably follow the professions of their choice, the whole nation entered into a contract and by a unanimous resolution endorsed these rights in the Constitution of 1973; The provisions of Article 4 of the Constitution have made these rights inviolable and inalienable by conferring a right upon every individual to be dealt with in accordance with law and by specifically providing that “No person shall be prevented from or be hindered in doing that which is not prohibited by law.”
The Lahore high court further observed that in case of any violation, and encroachment thereof, the judiciary specially the superior courts of the country by means of Article 199(2) and 184(4), have been made responsible to provide remedy to those citizens, whose rights have been encroached by the State, or its functionaries.
It is surprising that stipend is being given to medical practitioners, accountants and other professionals for rendering services in house-jobs/internships but the fresh legal practitioners are deprived of any stipend or salary. This is discrimination and a blatant violation of Articles 3, 4, 14, 18, 25, 37 and 38 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973.
It is lamentable that the Council of Common Interests has not even paid heed to this issue of public importance. Under Articles 153 and 154 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, the Council of Common Interests is supposed to look after the welfare of young law graduates by formulating the policy on determination of stipend/salary.
Unless legal rights of young lawyers are strictly enforced by proper diligence and planning, the status quo is bound to stay. We will keep on facing such ugly situations every now and then, and our judicial system will be subject to mockery and ridicule in the entire world.
The above article is reproduced courtesy of the Daily Times – https://dailytimes.com.pk/725519/should-we-blame-the-young-lawyers/