By Muhammed Javed
A Jeddah daily the other day carried a news item that His Lordship Chief Justice of Pakistan has said that the Court will determine the mode of the medical college fees. The SC also observed that it would give preference to adjudicating upon cases related to health and education sectors during the current year 2018. It is a laudable step of our Honourable Lordships. Rightly, majority of the talk-show participants acknowledged that the two biggest problems of the commoners were non availability of education and health facilities to their children. I pray God complete success of My Lordship in his sincere effort, though inside of his heart this senior citizen is a bit afraid of as so far he can’t recall having seen, in to to, getting practically such ambitious seeing light of the day. For example, about 25 years ago My Lordships took suo moto on smoke omitting rickshaws on Karachi roads, issued some directives and made Karachi Bar Association a monitoring supervisor. On my mentioning, an old illiterate rickshaw driver said to me “Sahib, those who wished so they themselves will soon forget and our rickshaws would remain the same”. And it did. Rickshaw smoke on M.A. Jinnah road in front of Karachi Bar Association and on Burns Road in front of SHC never finished by “directive” but change to CNG reduce the condensation.
- However, this senior citizen has a great, deep inside his heart, wish that My Lordship takes up, on more priority than medical colleges fees, the black coats fees. If memories of this old man, in his age group generally called hanging legs in grave, are not bent to fail him, he does remember somewhere recently an Honourable SC Judge having mentioned about the exorbitant fees of lawyers.
- Since the good news that ریاست ہوگی ماں کے جیسی, the fees of black coats have skyrocketed like their becoming a new super-tiger “Force” in the country. After paying demanded Fee, one can’t today be sure if his Lawyer would definitely appear in the Hearing. When our higher judiciary took a “new birth” and almost every evening we the ordinary heard Mr. Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhary raising the hopes of masses on this issue and on that, one fine morning this “old fool” sent him a copy of a pre-printed “Blank” وکالت نامہfrom a Lawyer, a litigant plaintiff or defendant required to sign. Different Lawyers have, for their convenience, printed their own blank wakalatnamas. The hiring litigant, as per the above blank I sent to Mr. Iftikhar Choudhary, agreed that it would be his (litigant’s) duty to trace and inform the Lawyer when the Court called the parties to the Rostrum. What time from 08.00 to 04.00 the court will call a case, no one can predict as for an ordinary litigant is concerned. It is too hard to know “on the call” where could be sitting his lawyer; in cafeteria discussing politics, which corner of the judicial complex or in which court etc. The litigant, under the وکالت نامہ, undertakes that after having paid fees as demanded, he would not hold the Lawyer response if the case went ex parte due to non-attendance of the Lawyer. Great Choudhary Sahib who had painted green heavens in the media, appeared to have taken no note of this “public Interest” issue from this old man, perhaps because it was against the interest of those black coats on whose shoulders he came back.
- Well know anchor Rauf Klasra in his talk show 20 December 2017 mentioned a very senior lawyer who is often seen on mini screen and had been a Governor. According to Rauf, in the poor hopeless ability of this senior citizen translating Rauf’s Urdu words into English, he (the Lawyer) shows his face to his client only while receiving Fee and thereafter is not available to the client.
- Somewhere near the end of 1980s, I was victim of swindling Kawasaki Motorcycle installment scheme. For approaching the court, I needed a black coat. Knowing none and unfamiliar with Lahore, I searched the Public Notices from Lawyers in the weekend edition of a Lahore daily. My eyes stuck to a name Naeem Shibili Advocate his address reading ABC XYZ Associates. This ABC XYZ was the name of a highly respectable internationally reputed Advocate of Gujrat the main untiring horse power in as-called “new birth” of the judiciary. This name was and even in this too age is a symbol of professional self dignity for me. I was aware of the system that the fresh interns take just a “table” in the chamber of some well known senior lawyer which not just lead them to experience but more importantly a plus “credit” in the professional market. Technically and administratively these juniors or are not direct employees or subordinates of the chamber owner. My satisfaction was the “chamber name” where he was sitting. Selecting him, I wrote him about my case. He consented to take up my case and advised me to send him an attested وکالت نامہindicating also how much would be his Fee. I remitted him not just his quoted Fee, rather something substantial extra (according to those times purchasing power) to cover up expenses to keep me updated. Once or twice in early stage I heard from him. Later it was complete silence from him. The case went ex-parte and I learnt that my advocate had shifted to Faisalabad. Shifting to another city must had some personal circumstances but as a professional he had at least a moral courtesy to inform his client so he could make some other alternate for the case let alone for refund of any Fees paid.
- Till then as generally we had not yet turned into what we are today en block a lawless society. Likewise till then the black coats had not turned into a black-water Force. Though, however, the legal system was marred with a bit lawlessness viz black-marketing of papers by vendors, advocates having obtained cases above their daily capacity, not attending the hearings or early morning getting adjournment etc. I approached Punjab Bar Council when I received a Hearing Notice from Faisalabad Bar Association. At the very glance, it showed how biased and dishonest the secretary was. Just giving 6 days, the Secretary posted me this notice to a foreign country. It reached me the evening when next early morning I was supposed to be in the Bar Association. During those days there was only one weekly flight between Bahrain and Karachi. Faisalabad was not an international airport. In addition, departure from abroad for expatriates needed legal procedural formalities to complete.
- The Hearing was on a complaint from a citizen. And the complaint was against a member of this professional body, generally and academically, though wrongly presumed working to keep interests equally both of members and the litigants in addition to preserving the dignity of the profession. As per the general concept under this hearing notice, both the complainant (me) and the defendant (the concerned lawyer) were supposed to be there before the Secretary. But hold your breath. As per the notice, I had to do four or five things. 25 plus years have eroded much of my memory. The first thing I needed was to give to the Secretary the full address of the advocate concerned. So, practically, it meant that I would have to be the only one appearing and not the lawyer. I was supposed to trace the lawyer in the Faisalabad city. Secretary not having a complete list of the members leaves this million dollars question. It could have by some luck taken a week or so in tracing my lawyer, inform the secretary and then, say in a month time again, a Hearing re-scheduled on which the lawyer to be found in Lahore appearing in high court or in his place like Ishaq Dar’s not trustable a medical certificate coming. The second thing I was required to produce before the inefficient dishonest Secretary was my Lahore Court case number etc which, in the first instant I had never got my lawyer when I engaged him in Lahore and secondly the Secretary had held a hearing without any prior preparation only and only for delaying tactics.
- My Lordship, black coats fees are more important than medical college fees.