SC bars fresh lawyers enrolled in PBC from voting without entry test

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court on Monday stopped fresh lawyers, enrolled in the Punjab Bar Council (PBC) without passing Law GAT from the voting.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Mazahar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi heard the case filed by Advocate Malik Aneeq Ali Khatana regarding the legal reforms and mushroom growth of law colleges.

During the course of proceedings, the court also barred the lawyers, who were enrolled without entry test due to coronavirus pandemic, from voting in provincial bar councils elections.

The court also issued directions to the bar councils of the country in this regard. Elected representatives of lawyers from all four provinces and Islamabad supported the decision.

Around 10,000 new lawyers would not be able to cast their votes in the bar councils elections. These lawyers either not appeared in the Law GAT or scored less than 50 percent marks.

The court ordered the Pakistan Bar Council to fix 50 percent marks as merit for enrolment of new lawyers in the legal profession. The bench stated that provincial bar councils could not reduce merit as this was the prerogative of Pakistan Bar Council and Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The bench stated that new lawyers could be given the right to vote if they pass the Law GAT test with 50% marks.

The counsel for the new lawyers pleaded the court to relax rules to allow new lawyers to vote.

Justice Bandial responded that the merit should be strictly followed. Voting rights were for qualified lawyers only, he added.

He said that new lawyers should continue legal practice on a temporary basis but they must get 50% marks in the exams to be held in December this year.

He asked the Pakistan Bar Council to prepare a guide for compiling the entrance test questions two weeks before the examination. "We have to improve the quality of the bar," he added.

The petitioner said that the main purpose of the case was training of lawyers and ensure merit.

He pleaded the court for implementation of its orders regarding training of new lawyers.

Justice Bandial asked the bar councils to ensure their duty regarding training of lawyers.

He directed the Pakistan Bar Council to brief the court on training programme on next date of hearing.

Senior counsel Zafar Iqbal said that apex court’s orders were not being implemented. - APP