By Adv. Ch. Abdur Rahman Nasir Burm
It has been overlooked and the most important and vital professional group that is of Lawyers have been deliberately or to downgrade the legal fraternity, the Lawyers Community have been ignored and ruthlessly segregated from the incentives, reliefs and packages as other professionals, servicemen or groups of people are enjoying. Lawyers are assisting and holding the pillar of justice whereupon the whole judicial system and judiciary is standing and relaxing and the Society is enjoying the fruits of Justice. Lawyers are neither less dignified than Judges or Justice nor less important than any other profession, community or group including security forces of Pakistan.
As Forces secure the borders and the Lawyers maintain and uphold the justice due to which whole of Society exist, depend and sustain. As without Justice and proper judicial system no society can sustain and is destined to perish. Lawyers are the learned and Law Graduates, being a parallel and part of judicial system, they are to be regarded and respected as Judiciary.
They cannot be ridiculed and humiliated. Their honour and respect is as sacred as of any August Justice, and Lawyers as community are to be honoured as Courts of Law or Pak. Forces, being esteemed members of Lego-judicial community. The humiliation and contempt of a Lawyer must be cognizable and punishable from 6 months to three years as to the nature of contempt. The contempt of Lawyer at least be equated to the contempt of Court to which a Lawyers is entitled to appear under the Law. In no case a Lawyer or Lawyers community ought to be allowed to be ridiculed. A Lawyer, due to his legal honour and respect in no case must be handcuffed or directly arrested.
A strategy to be adopted in case of any offence, approval must be sought from the relevant Bar Council/Association for arrest of a Lawyer. Offences leading to compoundable must be settled at Bar level and only in serious allegation of offences a Lawyer be allowed for arrest and trial. Law Graduates must be awarded qualification allowance to the tune of at least Rs. 30,000/- per month liable to be further enhanced.
Lawyers play most important role in the society and help in dispensation of justice and generally fight against injustice and cruelty. The Advocate is called as an Officer of the Court. Bench (comprising Judges) and the Bar (comprising Lawyers) are exemplified as two wheels of train of justice which are inseparable and cannot achieve the goal of justice without aid and assistance of each other. So the Lawyers are indispensable towards judicial system and advancement of justice in the society. Lawyers are the experts and researchers of their cases and none else is more aware or competent in his brief than the engaged Lawyer. Lawyers are neither less qualified in education nor in experience than a Judge. A Judge is to decide a matter and a Lawyer is to plead. Both are performing their parallel duties towards administration of justice.
Lawyers have been playing vital role not only in dispensation of justice rather maintaining and upholding the democratic norms in the Country. Lawyers provide legal framework to the people of Pakistan. They Work as Lawyers, Law Officers, Legal Advisors, Solicitors, Draftsmen and Attorneys. All the Judges are basically Lawyers and law graduates. After retirement or resignation the Judges join the Bars as Members and perform as Lawyers or Advisors. However, while sitting in the chair in a Court of Law, a Judge assume esteemed position and backbone of the estimation of the judiciary which is Lawyers Community is undermined. Lawyer’s sacrifices are more than that of Judges in judicial history of Pakistan, hence Lawyers are not of less importance in any manner.
Despite prominent and undeniable role of Lawyers in the Society, they have always been pushed to wall. Neither their elegant role has been duly recognized nor they have been awarded due respect and reward for their services being rendered for the public.
The practicing Lawyers are unsalaried and what they earn on daily basis hardly meet their life requirements. The Lawyers are deprived of housing facility from the Government. They are not facilitated in payment of their utility bills by the Government. There are no Lawyers Colonies in Pakistan duly accommodating the Lawyers on low cost basis. Lawyers are not granted pensionary benefits at retiring age, if any one of them is unable to further practice or does not intend to carry it on. There are no specific packages or funds for a Lawyer, if he becomes incapacitated to continue daily practice, becomes ill or handicapped due to any accident or ailment. At least one crore (One hundred thousands rupees) along with free medical check up and treatment of his own and all of his family members as to the ranked Gazetted officers must be awarded. All Lawyers must be insured and they must be paid insurance benefits. When we analysis the Judges and the Lawyers, they are not equal in facilities and fringe benefits. Judges are paid salary in Lacs, they are provided housing facility by the Government, conveyance facility, drivers and utility bills are paid by the Government. Judges are not charged against theses facilities, hence they enjoy pay and perks and air conditioned atmosphere at home and Court at public expense. Medical and travel facilities are in addition. They are also paid pensions from public exchequer. Analyzing the two wheels of justice train, it appears that one wheel is extra aired and the second is punctured and is not even cured for years. How the judicial system can be improved without improving the condition of Lawyers.
Government and the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan must recommend and resolve the issues and Lawyers must be uplifted from the miseries and panic.
Measures are to be adopted that a Lawyer is provided free accommodation along with free utility services by the Government or be paid rental values. On being incapable of performing legal services be paid handful amount for sustaining his life and of kids. Pensionary benefits must be extended to the Lawyers, as proposed or granted by the Indian Government. There must be at least 20% Lawyers Quota in all Government, semi-Govt. or private residential schemes. 25% Lawyers’ son quota in all Law Colleges and Universities must be acknowledged against which Lawyers sons must be accommodated. Free medical facilities in dignified manners must be sanctioned in private and public hospitals to the Lawyers and their families. Every registered Lawyer must be paid reasonable judicial services/legal services allowance/ scholarship, honorarium or remuneration equivalent to half of monthly salary of a Gazetted Government Officer of BS-17 for first three years and of BS-18 three to seven years.
In the present pandemic situation the Lawyers have totally been ignored and neglected from any kind of relief package, which is injustice to the Lawyers Community while Traders and other small medium entrepreneur have been accommodated. Despite billions of rupees funds granted by the foreign donors, nothing relief package has been extended to the Lawyers who earn livelihood on daily basis and they have also badly suffered in this pandemic and forced lockdown. Courts are also not inclined to grant any relief to the Lawyers as they perhaps now are unaware of the hardships of the Lawyers.
It is undisputed that fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan like doing business, practice lawful profession and earn livelihood have been taken away, then the principles of State Policy become obligatory duty of the Government, to provide food and free life facilities to the citizens. This angle of situation is not being considered neither by the Government nor the Courts of the Country, as the Government officials/functionaries and judges enjoy pay and perks uninterrupted. How they can guess the miseries of others, as a full belly hardly recognize the hardships and pain of a hungry belly.
In nutshell, the Lawyers demand the following rights and incentives which is presently called a Draft of Charter of Demands of Lawyers:
A: Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance and Law Graduate Allowance:
a- Law Graduate Allowance = Rs. 30,000/- (liable to be increased)
from the date of passing the
examination till he gains employment or register as an Advocate.
1- Advocates’ Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance = Rs. _______(Half Basic Salary of a
Gazetted Officer BS-17) for 3 years.
2- = Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance = Rs. _____ (Half of Basic Salary of a
Gazetted Officer BS-18) for 3+ to 7 years
3- =Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance = Rs. ______(Half of Basic Salary of a
Gazetted Officer BS-19) for 7+ to 10 years.
4- =Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance = Rs. _____(Half of Basic Salary of a
Gazetted Officer BS-20) for 10+ to 15 years.
5- = Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance = Rs. _____( Half of Basic Salary of
Gazetted Officer BS-21) for 15+ to 20 years.
6- = Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance= Rs._____ Half of Basic Salary of a
Gazetted Officer BS-22) for 20+ till retirement.
B- Govt. Accommodation or house rent allowance:
i- All registered Lawyers, Advocates and practicing Lawyers must be provided free Government accommodation equivalent to the category for which they are entitled for Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance according to Government Pay Scales.
ii- All kinds of Utility Bills of the Advocates must be free as to the judicial
C- On Being Incapable To Practice Due To Any Reason.
A minimum amount of Rs. 10 million (increasable) be awarded to the Lawyer who is unable to carry practice or so happened in lump-sum and in case of sudden death during practice his family must be paid a compensatory amount of Rs. 15 million (increasable) in lump-sum promptly.
D- Medical Allowance:
All Lawyers must be provided Free Medical Facility and to their family members and dependents as per their eligibility equivalent to the scales of Government of Pakistan in all Government and Private Standard Hospitals, Free of Cost and at the Government expense alongwith all tests and medical expenses of whatever kind or nature.
All Lawyers must be insured and their benefits of Insurance be payable on their incapacity or retirement alongwith other benefits and allowances. Group Insurance and Benevolent Funds amounts must be increased to millions.
Pensionary Benefits must be granted to all the Lawyers at the age of 60 for advocates of High Court and at the age of 65 for the advocates of Supreme Court of Pakistan according to their eligibility to the equivalent Govt. scale. However, option should be with Lawyer, as to when he so wishes to retire.
G- Attestation Authority:
All registered advocates must be recognized as an attestation authority to sign and stamp all documents where attestation of Grade-17 or Grade-18 is required.
H- Power of Justice of Peace,
Every registered Lawyer must be recognized as honourary Justice of Peace in his Area, he should have the authority to inspect Police Station and redress the grievance of any citizen on his own or on a complaint if any innocent citizen unlawfully kept under lock up by Police.
I- Lawyers Community Clubs:
There must be Lawyers Clubs in every Tehsil and District Level, where Lawyers Community can avail their recreational activities, the sites and buildings must be allocated by the relevant Governments.
J- Lawyers ‘Colonies:
Residential Colonies must be established for Lawyers on ownership basis on nominal charges and provide low cost residential facilities on dignified manners.
K- Lawyer’s Hospital:
Special Lawyer’s Hospitals must be established at least at District Level with all latest medical facilities.
L- Lawyers’ Schools and Universities:
Lawyers School at every Tehsil level must be established where the Lawyers children have latest education.
M- Lawyers University:
Lawyers Universities must be established at all provincial and capital level.
N- Lawyers Son Quota:
25 % Lawyers son/daughter Quota must be fixed in all Law Colleges and Universities.
O- Legal Advisory:
All companies and Firms must be compelled to engage a Legal Advisor and the Law must be strictly implemented.
P- Documentation and Agreements:
All documentation and Agreements between two or more parties must be vetted and countersigned by a registered Advocate and no document and agreement is to be treated as valid until and unless vetted and countersigned by an Advocate and Stamped. Appropriate Fee not less than Rs. 1000/- as per nature of the document and its value be charged.
Q- Humiliation and Defamation:
Humiliation, dishonor and disrespect of a Lawyer and Lawyers community must be treated as offence, actionable and punishable like contempt.
Lawyers Chambers, Houses and Vehicles must be exempted from search by Police even through search warrant of any competent authority. Similarly, Lawyer must be exempted from arrest and detention and must never be handcuffed in any situation. In serious allegations or heinous offence, arrest may be made with prior approval of the Bar Council/Bar Association concerned, which will grant permission after thorough probe and inquiry.
S- Finance and Loans:
Lawyers must be awarded facility of interest free loans from the Banks and Financial Institutions minimum Rs. 5 million or upwards with easy and affordable installments and house building loans etc.
T- Higher Studies:
Any Lawyer desirous of higher studies and qualification within or outside country must be afforded with all facilities and scholarships and his Legal Practice/Judicial Allowance must not be deducted or withdrawn during his studies.
Lawyers have been fighting for others and have sacrificed their lives for the cause of justice, rule of Law or independence of judiciary but now they have to fight and struggle for their own rights and dignity of profession, as the Lawyers are eligible and entitled for equal treatment, incentives and compensation.
In the present circumstances and due to Corona Pandemic, forced lockdown and stay at home policy, where other communities, workers, traders and professionals earning on daily basis have suffered socially and economically, the Lawyers being the members of same society and citizens of Pakistan have direly been affected by this disease and due to measures taken by the Government of Pakistan, as the Lawyers are not monthly paid or salaried persons. What they earn on daily basis utilize and meet the necessities of their life including of their families, dependents and children.
They play pivotal role in the administration and dispensation of justice. Most of the Lawyers belong to middle class families and do not possess assets in millions.
Government has considered the other classes of people and have provided relief packages, like traders, small medium entrepreneur, industrialists and workers etc.but the Lawyers Community has totally and ruthlessly been ignored in granting any kind of relief package at least for four months, or at least considering and treating them at par with other classes of people. They have neither been considered and awarded relief or concessions in payment of rents or utility bills. They have not even offered interest free loans as per requirements of each Lawyer, which is unjust and improper. State is sign of unity and mother of all citizens. Constitution is a bond between the citizens and the State and it’s functionaries form the Government. When
Fundamental Rights of the citizens have been scrapped by the Government like earnings, livelihood and professional activities, then duty of State emerged to compensate the affected communities/people due to compulsory lockdown. In such a case the principles of State policy become obligatory and binding duties of the State liable to be fulfilled and perform their duties towards individuals/citizens of State.
Some critics may object non-availability or provision of funds for Lawyers rights and demands. It is to be noted that how the politicians and members of the legislative bodies are accommodated. How much extra privileges and perks are being enjoyed by the bureaucracy and high-ups. All their facilities except salary, medical and house rent must be withdrawn, like phones, petrol, drivers, travel allowances and Cars etc. Special Funds and Grants may be earmarked for the Lawyers Community being part of judicial system.
It can be prudently adjudged and maintained that when other persons or communities are entitled for relief packages why the Lawyers are not being accommodated and compensated. Millions of dollars funds are earmarked for the purpose and have been granted by the foreign donors but the Lawyers stand ignored, deprived and mistreated. In the suo-moto notice taken by the honourable Supreme Court, lawyers community have not been paid any attention nor accommodated in relief as they stay payless.
All responsible and state functionaries must pay attention and resolve the concern and unrest amongst the Lawyers Community with due consideration and proper relief. Further for the rights and demands of the Lawyers Community a bill must be drafted and tabled in the National/Provincial Assembly for proper enactment. It may be done through independent enactment as Legal Services Act or through amendment in the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act. Bar Associations, Bar Councils and the Advocates in the Assemblies may play their positive and active role in materialization of these genuine and historical demands of the Lawyers. If this Charter of Demand of Lawyers is implemented and practiced, no Lawyer will be penniless or unpaid and he and his dependents will never die of hunger and expect others to help out.
Being a welfare cause of Legal Fraternity, there are no copyrights of this Article and Charter of Demands of Lawyers. All Lawyers, Bar Councils and Bar Associations may share, copy and reprint this work for the advancement of the cause of welfare of Lawyers Community.
– The Author of this Article is a Legal Researcher, Senior Practicing Lawyer, Visiting Professor (Law), Social Worker and presently Candidate for Member Islamabad Bar Council.