KARACHI: the story of Justice Musheer’s uncle, a burqa and resistance

The lawyers taking part in a protest general body meeting Thursday were regaled with the heartening story of Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan’s lawyer, who found a rather unusual way to make it to court to fight his client’s case.

The story dates back to 1954 when Justice Musheer Alam’s uncle Manzar Alam advocate was representing Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan, the late Speaker of the then Constituent Assembly. Tamizuddin created history when the Constituent Assembly was dismissed by Governor General Ghulam Mohammad in 1954. Tamizuddin challenged the dismissal in the court. “A heavy police contingent was posted at our residence so that both Moulvi Tamizuddin and my uncle could not reach court,” recalled Justice Musheer Alam while addressing members of the Karachi Bar Association (KBA) here on Thursday. “My uncle dodged the police by donning a burqa (veil) and reached the high court in a rickshaw.”

Justice Musheer Alam, who was deposed on Nov 2, told lawyers on Thursday that his refusal to take oath on Nov 3 was a personal and individual act and taken according to his conscience.

Alam said that when he was asked to take oath under the PCO in 1999 (imposed by General Pervez Musharraf), he tried his best to consult the then Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (Justice Ajmal Mian) and Justice Kamal Mansur Alam, but they were unable to guide him. “I then consulted some friends who advised me to take oath, saying that if I were unable to deliver justice then I could resign,” he said. “I decided to take oath but the decision gave me a guilty conscience throughout those nine years and when I was asked to take oath on Nov 02, 2007 under the PCO, it was entirely my own decision to say ‘No’, to follow in the footsteps of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.”

He said he was following in the same tradition as his uncle by saying no to extra-constitutional steps. He also mentioned May 12 and April 09, dates when the courts were besieged by men and gun toting youth. “I stood by advocate friends and faced the problems as a victim,” he said. “I am prepared to repeat the same thing in the future also.

Justice Musheer Alam said that struggle by the lawyers would continue. The judges sitting in the benches today are there because of the lawyers’ movement.

“No one shall doubt the sincerity and honesty of judges who took oath recently but it is now for lawyers to seek justice,” he said, urging them to improve their professional skills and forge unity in their rank and file.

The lawyers’ movement of Pakistan will go down in the history of the world as a unique movement and as a result no dictator will now ever think of toying with the Constitution, he said, describing the lawyers as the most disciplined lot after the armed forces.

“The truth will prevail ultimately,” he said, adding that sooner or later, the movement by the lawyers for a truly independent judiciary will succeed.”

He was given a standing ovation.

Source: Daily Times, 19/9/2008

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