Zia elected Vice Chairman of PaK Bar

Greater Kashmir

Muzaffarabad, Jan 31: Chaudhry Muhammad Ibrahim Zia, a senior lawyer from Muzaffarabad, was elected vice chairman of the Pakistan administered Kashmir’s Bar Council in intriguing elections to the lawyers’ apex statutory body here on Wednesday.
Out of the total 37 polled votes, Zia bagged 21 as against 16 secured by his lone rival, Chaudhry Mumtaz. The election to the office of vice chairman was earlier scheduled for Jan 28 but was delayed by two days due to a petition whereby the qualification of one of the 38 members of the body was called into question by an aggrieved lawyer.
The 38 Bar Council members were elected on Nov 27 and their success was notified through a joint notification on Dec 17.
According to legal sources, petitions regarding elections of the Bar Council members are filed before the respective returning officer who refers them to the election tribunal, nominated by the PaK High Court Chief Justice from amongst the HC judges. The nominated judge proceeds in the matter after he is duly notified by the Bar Council.
According to sources, Justice Younas Tahir was nominated by the CJ to hear the petitions against Nov 27 elections but before his nomination could be notified by the Bar Council he entertained the petition of Raja Manzoor against the election of Tariq Bashir.
On Jan 25, Bashir pointed out in an application to Justice Tahir that since he (judge) was a client of the petitioner (Raja Manzoor) in a case wherein his (judge’s) own appointment was challenged, the code of conduct for judges did not allow him to sit on the bench in this particular case.
But the learned judge overlooked the contention and directed him to approach the CJ for change of bench. He suspended the notification of success of all 38 members and fixed Jan 29 as the next date of hearing.
However, on Jan 28, Justice Tahir made an amendment in his order of Jan 25 and revived the operation of the Dec 17 notification to the extent of all but one member. Court sources said the correction was made on the application of lawyer Yaqoob Mughal.
On Tuesday, Justice Tahir referred the case back to the CJ who observed that since the issue was governed by a special law he could not constitute a fresh tribunal without referring the mater back to the Bar Council.
In the meanwhile, around 17 Bar Council members sent a requisition to the chairman (advocate general) to summon the council session on Thursday (Jan 31) for election of vice chairman. However, the chairman called the session a day earlier, where Zia was elected although a senior judicial personality was reportedly interested in the victory of his rival. It may be mentioned here that Zia is returning as the Bar Council member for the third consecutive term, spanning over five years. He was also chief prosecutor in the PaK Ehtesab Bureau from Sept 2000 to April 2002 but quit the office due to some reservations about the accountability process.