Chronolgy of Events During Lawyers' Movement

March 9: President General Prevez Musharraf called the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftekhar Mohammad Chaudhry, to Army House and declared him non-functional. An arrogant General asked the Chief Justice to resign, not realising how much the people of Pakistan hate the military government and how much respect they have for rule of law and the supremacy of the judiciary. No one knew at that time that the Chief Justice’s “NO” would change the history of Pakistan.(Photo: Reuters)

Justice Javed Iqbal was appointed Acting Chief Justice.

March 10: Protocol for the Chief Justice is withdrawn, his cars taken away, and he and his family are not allowed to leave the house. Lawyers announce a three day protest and a complete strike of the courts.

March 10-13: Lawyers lead massive protests throughout the country and boycott proceedings of all courts. During such a protest in Lahore on March 12, police baton-charge lawyers, injuring forty.

March 13: After being held incommunicado in his house for three days, Chief Justice Chaudhry is produced before the Supreme Judicial Council for the first time after his suspension. He is mishandled by the law enforcement agencies, pushed by his head and pulled by his hair. He resists the police and returns to the people. Opposition members, parliamentarians, lawyers and representatives of civil society converge on Constitution Avenue in support of the Chief Justice.

March 14: The Sindh High Court Bar Association members form a human chain around the court building.

March 15: Lawyers across the country observe a one-hour token strike and continue their protests against the suspension of the Chief Justice. • President General Musharraf said the government will accept the verdict of the Supreme Judicial Council on the reference against the Chief Justice. • The government bans a popular television show. Geo television was attacked by the police.

March 16: Police fire rubber bullets and teargas at thousands of opposition supporters in Islamabad and smash up studios of the private Geo television station which had covered the protests live. • The Chief Justice complains to the Judicial Council that he and his family members are detained in the house. Counsel was ordered to lift all of the restrictions.

March 17: President Musharraf sends the Chief Justice on forced leave.

March 19: Justice Jawad Khwaja, a Lahore High Court judge, and two judicial officers of Sindh resign in protest of the Chief Justice’s suspension. In total seven judges resign in protest, including Mr. Nasir Saeed Khawja, Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Mustafa Mustafawi, Senior Civil Judge, Mr. Rajesh Chander Rajput, Senior Civil Judge and Miss Erum Jehangir, Civil Judge.

March 20: The Government serves Aaj Television notice on live coverage and discussions on judicial crisis.

March 21: Around 4,000 lawyers and workers of various political parties rally on The Mall in Lahore to protest against the Chief Justice’s suspension in continuance of the nationwide protests. Two assistant public prosecutors resign from their offices in protest. • Throughout the country, lawyers and political workers announce their intention to hold continuous protests. Authorities stop the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council for ten days.

March 22: General Musharraf appoints Rana Bhagwandas Acting Chief Justice.

March 26: Political parties organise their first joint protests outside the Supreme Court.

March 28: Chief Justice Chaudhry makes his first public speech since being suspended, addressing a huge gathering of lawyers at the Rawalpindi High Court Bar Association where he says, "it is impermissible for an organ to exceed its prescribed limits for that would constitute interference in the domain of another."

March 31: Throughout the country, different bar associations vow to continue their campaign against the suspension of the Chief Justice until his restoration. Lawyers organise mass demonstrations throughout the country which continue throughout the month of April.

April 2: The Supreme Court serves contempt of court notices on senior administrative and police hierarchy of Islamabad for roughing up the Chief Justice to prevent him from marching towards the apex court.

April 3: The Chief Justice appears before a private session of the Pakistan Supreme Court and demands that the closed hearing be made public. • A large number of lawyers and political and social activists protest for six hours outside the Supreme Court, demanding reinstatement of the Chief Justice. • Lawyers in Quetta stay away from court proceedings and take out protest processions while more than 2,000 lawyers rally on The Mall in Lahore. • The lawyers’ fraternity in Sindh High Court, city courts, labour courts, anti-terrorist courts and courts of Malir district observe a complete strike. Lawyers protested in each district of the country.

April 4: The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicts senior administration and police officials of Islamabad for contempt of court by roughing up the Chief Justice. • Lawyers in Hyderabad boycott courts for an hour. Protests are also held in Thatta, Nawabshah, Jacobabad, Khairpur and Dadu.

April 9: The Supreme Court accepts two identical petitions questioning the legality of the Supreme Judicial Council and the President’s reference against the Chief Justice.

April 10: The District Bar Associations in Punjab suspend memberships of 19 lawyers, including two parliamentary secretaries and two former presidents, for attending a government-sponsored lawyers’ convention. The District Bar Association in Sialkot cancels the membership of National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Ameer Husain for supporting the suspension of Justice Iftekhar Chaudhry.

April 11: Lawyers refuse to allow Advocate Wasim Sajjad, who represents the referring authority in the reference, to sit in the bar room of the Sindh High Court in Karachi.

April 13: A huge rally of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy expresses solidarity with the Chief Justice. Lawyers throughout Sindh also boycott courts and stage protest demonstrations. Hyderabad lawyers stage a rally from the Pakistan Chowk to the local press club and protests are held in T.M.Khan, Thatta, Nawabshah, Mithi, Khairpur, Naushahro Feroze, Dadu, Mirpurkhas. Lawyers across the Frontier province also boycott court proceedings.

April 14: At the annual dinner of the Sindh High Court Bar Association’s Sukkur Chapter, the Chief Justice calls for upholding supremacy of law and the Constitution by ensuring that none of the three pillars of the state dominated the other two: ‘‘Abuse of power often happens in a society where there is centralisation of all powers in one person or one institution.’’

April 15: In Hyderabad, the Chief Justice addresses a large gathering of lawyers, including fifteen sitting judges of the Sindh High Court, at a reception of the Chapter of the High Court Bar Association and the Hyderabad District Bar Association, saying: “A civilised society is ruled by the constitution and a representative system of governance.”

April 16: The government concedes before the Supreme Court that it still considers Justice Iftekhar Mohammad Chaudhry to be the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

April 18: The Chief Justice launches a challenge to the composition of the judicial bench hearing allegations against him. Lawyers, supporters of various opposition parties and representatives of civil society organisations hold demonstrations and rallies across the country to express solidarity with the Chief Justice. • The district bar association of Toba Tek Singh cancels the memberships of three lawyers for attending a ruling party lawyers’ convention. Thousands of lawyers and political activists rally in Lahore. Lawyers in Karachi boycott the courts and stage a sit-in in front of the Sindh Chief Minister’s House.

April 23: A seven-member delegation of lawyers leaves Lahore for Islamabad by foot.

April 24: Supreme Court Judge Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan declines to head a bench hearing. The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors condemns Pemra’s issuance of show-cause notice to the Aaj TV channel.

April 25: The Chief Justice files a petition (http://material.ahrchk.net/pakistan/Petition-GAK-18-04-07.pdf) in the Supreme Court alleging that he was physically restrained till 5pm when he refused to resign to prevent him from leaving the President’s Camp Office Rawalpindi on the day he was suspended.

April 27: The Chief Justice files another application in the Supreme Court asking the Court to decide his request to stay the May 2 Supreme Judicial Council proceedings regarding the presidential reference against him.

May 2: Several individuals are injured when police use batons to stop them from proceeding to the Supreme Court building where the Chief Justice is to appear before the Supreme Judicial Council. The District Bar Associations cancel memberships of 33 lawyers for meeting the Punjab Chief Minister on May 1. Protests are held in Peshawar, Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Lahore, Attock, Abbotabad, Chakwal, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Charsadda, Bannu, Sukkur and other cities of Pakistan.

May 3: Police try to prevent lawyers from entering the Supreme Court during the Chief Justice’s appearance before the Supreme Judicial Council.

May 4: Police detain over 1,000 political activists in an attempt to foil the reception of the Chief Justice as he travels from Islamabad to Lahore on May 5.

May 5: Thousands cheer the Chief Justice’s motorcade from Islamabad to Lahore, where he declares to a huge crowd that the “era of dictatorship is over.” Mass arrests, road blockades, baton-charges and teargas shelling by police fail to stop people from welcoming the Chief Justice in various cities during his journey. At least 16 High Court judges are among those who wait for the Chief Justice throughout the night. • The government takes three television news channels off the air on Saturday afternoon, depriving viewers in Karachi and southern Sindh of live coverage of the procession of the Chief Justice.

May 6: Lawyers, political and rights activists and serving and retired judges of superiour and subordinate courts accord an unprecedented welcome to the Chief Justice. His motorcade takes 25 hours to reach the Lahore High Court from Islamabad.

May 7: The Supreme Court suspends the Supreme Judicial Council’s inquiry into charges against the Chief Justice and takes up the petition challenging his suspension.

May 12-13: At least 51 are killed and over 140 injured after government supporters, in particular activists of the MQM, prevent the Chief Justice from attending a rally in Karachi. Armed men attack the office of private television channel, Aaj TV, and set fire to more than a dozen vehicles in its parking lot. Strikes called afterwards paralyze much of the country.

May 14: A strike is held and most businesses and shops remain closed to protest against the mayhem in Karachi. Hundreds of armed men take control of the streets and the Chief Justice and his lawyers are prevented from attending a bar association function in Karachi.
• Four gunmen kill Syed Hammad Amjad Raza, Additional Registrar, Supreme Court, who had close ties to the Chief Justice.

May 17: Lawyers boycott court proceedings in Karachi in response to a call from the Pakistan Bar Council

May 21: Police register a sedition case against office-bearers of the High Court Bar Association, Hyderabad District Bar Association, Sindh Bar Council and leaders of parties in the Hyderabad Grand Alliance.

May 24: Lawyers boycott courts across Sindh on the appeal of the Pakistan Bar Council to condemn the presidential reference filed against the Chief Justice. They wear black armbands and staged token hunger strikes.

May 26: The Chief Justice addresses a seminar at the Supreme Court Auditorium which was broadcast live. He stated that authoritarianism is maligned because it is the antithesis of the concept of separation of powers and devoid of checks and balances.
• Lawyers, political and social activists hold a protest demonstration on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad for more than five hours.

May 28: Lawyers boycott court proceedings in Hyderabad in protest against the swearing-in of Acting Chief Justice Javed Iqbal. They stage a token hunger strike outside the civil courts after boycotting proceedings in civil sessions and the high courts.

May 29: The Chief Justice files an affidavit at the Supreme Court alleging that President Musharraf’s generals tried to intimidate him and he was detained on March 9. • A court employee is killed and nine people injured when a bomb explods outside the Peshawar High Court.

May 31: Police register a sedition case against hundreds of Karachi Bar Association members for setting fire to an effigy of President Musharraf.

June 2: More than 25,000 people greet the Chief Justice as he proceeds to Abbotabad. • The government stops satellite TV channels from telecasting programmes, including live talk shows and discussions, on the issue of the presidential reference.

June 3: Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel of Justice Iftekhar Mohammad Chaudhry, asks lawyers to send at least 1,000 affidavits in support of Hamid Ali Khan and Ali Ahmed Kurd, lawyers of the Chief Justice’s legal team against whom a contempt of court case is being filed in the Supreme Court.

June 4: General Musharraf imposes tough new rules on broadcasters, sparking protests by journalists. • Journalists, politicians and representatives of civil society organisations demonstrate in front of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.

June 5: Hundreds of opposition political activists and students are detained across Punjab ahead of countywide protests called by lawyers. • Some TV channel licenses are suspended.

June 6: The Supreme Court says that the decision of the case of the Chief Justice will be decided on the Constitutional merits. • A civil rights campaigner, Syed Mohammed Iqbal Kazmi, goes missing. He recently filed petitions on the May 12 mayhem in Karachi.

June 7: A National Assembly speaker bars journalists from parliament during their protests against new media curbs.

June 8: The government files three affidavits against the Chief Justice two from the Chief of the Intelligence Agencies and one from the President Chief of Staff.

June 9: President General Pervez Musharraf orders the authorities to withdraw the controversial Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Amendment Ordinance.

June 13: Head of the full bench of the Supreme Court, Justice Khalil Ur Rehman Ramday says that this is not the trial only of the Chief Justice, but of every judge, and the Judicial Council should not become the instrument in terminating judges.

June 18: Armed men attack Advocate Mr. Aamir Rana, the nephew of the Chief Justice.

June 23: The Chief Justice was given a big reception at Lahore airport before he departs by road for Multan city.

June 24: Seventeen hours after his departure from Lahore to Multan, the Chief Justice reaches Sahiwal after midnight, covering only half the journey. The Chief Justice arrives in Multan after a 36 hour journey from Lahore covering only 350 kilometers, where he receives an unprecedented welcome. The Chief Justice said, “the judiciary, executive and legislature should play their role and not encroach on each other’s role.”

June 26: Justice Khalil Ur Rehman Ramday, heading a 13-member bench hearing a petition challenging the presidential reference against the Chief Justice, deplores that it is the judiciary that is to blame for all the ills, whereas everyone bore responsibility for the poor affairs.

June 28: The government agrees to allow Pakistan’s Supreme Court to hear the Chief Justice’s petition instead of the Supreme Judicial Council, even though the Supreme Court calls the Chief Justice’s suspension “a huge damage to the country.” • In Lahore thousands of lawyers, political workers and civil society activists rally for the seventh consecutive week to register their protest against the presidential reference. • In Hyderabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Rawalpindi, lawyers boycott courts in support of the Chief Justice.

July 2: The Supreme Court fines the government for making ‘scandalous’ claims against the Chief Justice. The Court orders the Intelligence Bureau to inspect the Supreme Court and the offices of all judges and submit reports ensuring there are no bugging devices. The Court also suspends the license of State-appointed Advocate-on-Record. The bench bans the unauthorized access to intelligence operatives inside Superiour Courts.

July 14: The Chief Justice is accorded a warm welcome upon arrival in Lahore from Islamabad to address the District Bar Association.

July 15: The Chief Justice said in Lahore that “any change in the prevailing situation of the country depends on the restoration of the Constitution.” He tells the large gathering of lawyers and civil society members that “if the Constitution is not restored, the status quo will continue throughout the country.”

July 16: Government lawyers drop the charge of judicial misconduct against the Chief Justice.

July 17: A suicide bomber kills seventeen people during a lawyers’ rally in Islamabad shortly before the arrival of the Chief Justice. The Supreme Court grapples with the question of why the Supreme Judicial Council has restrained the Chief Justice ex parte in the dead of night not realizing that by doing so, it was also depriving the Judge of his honor and respect.

July 20: A full 13-member bench of the Supreme Court reinstates Chief Justice Chaudhry and quashes the charges against him sparking jubilant celebrations throughout the country. This is the first ever verdict contradicting a military ruler in the history of Pakistan.

July 21: Chief Justice Iftekhar Mohammad Chaudhry constitutes six benches, over one of which he will preside himself from Monday, marking the first day of formal work from his official residence. The Chief Justice calls Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain to his residence and reinstates him as Supreme Court registrar. During the meeting, the Chief Justice passes orders regarding official functions and constitutes six benches — three each at Islamabad and Lahore registries.

July 23: Chief Justice Iftekhar Mohammad Chaudhry declined to hear a private matter of senior counsel Sharifuddin Pirzada, who had defended the presidential reference against him before a 13-member bench, directing the Supreme Court office instead to put it before some other bench. • Lawyers observe Yaum-i-Tashakur (Thanksgiving Day) on Saturday and vow to continue their struggle till the removal of President Gen Pervez Musharraf. • The movement for the independence of the judiciary embarks upon the next phase when its key leaders, Munir A. Malik, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and Ali Ahmed Kurd, a former vice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, on Monday unfurl a programme for a political change in the country. Addressing a general body meeting of the Karachi Bar Association at the City. Courts, they ask General Pervez Musharraf to step down before being dislodged from power through a mass movement against the military dispensation.