LAHORE - Several petitions seeking separation of judiciary from the executive and arrest warrants of Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace remained the most prominent cases at the Lahore High Court during last week.

A five-member bench headed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took up the petitions seeking separation of non-judicial members from the judicial members of the special courts and tribunals in Punjab for the sake of independence of judiciary.

During the hearing, the bench raised many questions and directed the law officers and the counsels to come up with more arguments. The bench asked whether the LHC Chief Justice has powers to appoint any chairman or members of the tribunal and special courts or he can simply recommend different names to the Punjab government to fill the vacant judicial posts at special courts and tribunals.

Whether the Chief Justice should consult the government even in recommendation of names of the judges, the bench asked. The bench further questioned whether the budget of the special courts, tribunals should be from the budget of the LHC or they should be allocated special budget.

During the hearing, which holds much importance for the law students, Waqas Mir advocate, who was representing the petitioners, argued on the subject. His arguments were continued as the court adjourned hearing for Monday (today).

On the other hand, the hearing of contempt petition against Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Yasmeen Abbasi was taken up. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah summoned IGP Islamabad to explain as to why the courts’ orders regarding the arrest of Federal Ombudsperson Justice (r) Yasmeen Abbasi were not implemented. The IGP is supposed to appear before the judge today (Monday).

Meanwhile, the Federal Ombudsperson issued show cause notice to Justice Shah for May 10, terming contempt of court notice by LHC Judge as interference into the proceedings of the federal ombudsperson’ s office. In her show cause notice, Justice (r) held that Justice Shah had not maintained decency while enjoying judicial powers.

Ms Abbasi also issued the notice after a team of police officered entered into the office of Federal Ombudsperson to arrest her in contempt of court case in a woman’s harassment case. The LHC will take up petition today while the federal ombudsperson will hold proceedings of the same case at his office by May 10.

In another case, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf filed a civil miscellaneous application before the LHC seeking constitution of larger bench for hearing of petitions against PM, his family members and other politicians allegedly involved in Panama leaks. It also pleaded the court for early hearing of the petition.

The Lahore High Court Bar Association, which stood very active last week, called for fair accountability of all named in Panama leaks about offshore companies including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The bar passed three identical resolutions on the matter of Panama Papers.

Advocates Allah Bakhsh Gondal, Raheel Kamran Cheema and Malik Zeeshan Ahmad had moved the resolutions demanding a fair and free accountability of all other accused in Panama Papers of establishing offshore companies.

LHCBA president Rana Zia Abdul Rehman, Secretary Anas Ghazi, former presidents of the bar Abid Saqi and Ahmad Awais, Supreme Court Bar Association secretary Asad Manzoor Butt, Asma Jahangir, Azam Nazir Tarar and others addressed the house.

The speakers also expressed concerns over ‘rude’ behaviour of LHC judges with young lawyers especially.  The bar’s secretary presented the resolutions before the house that the members passed them unanimously.

The petition against removal of assets’ details from ECP website was also taken up by the LHC during last week. The court issued notices and sought reply from the authorities concerned.

At lower court, DSP Imran Babar Jameel was sent to jail on judicial remand on charges of raping a teenager. The DSP was suspended last year in February and a number of inquiries against him were underway.

During the week, a strange incident was also observed at the LHC premises as a young man and his friends misbehaved with a judge for dismissing a habeas corpus petition for recovery of his wife. The angry man also pulled a pistol on the counsel of rival party outside the courtroom.

Police and security personnel of the court arrested Bilal Bashir and one of his friends Awais and handed over them to police station concerned. Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmad was hearing the case.

Lawyers expressed serious concerns over security arrangements at the high court. They questioned as to how the young men managed to bring a gun inside the court premises amid strict security arrangements at all entrance points of the court. In the Orange Line Metro Train case, the LDA counsel will resume his arguments this week.