An additional district and sessions judge remained a "silent spectator" when a group of lawyers thrashed a policeman in his court in this eastern Pakistani city.
The lawyers led by Rana Shakeel and Asif Chattha punched and kicked Sub-Inspector Muhammad Khalil, tore his uniform and snatched a file on a case registered against their clients on charges of "selling out" three daughters of a widow.
No one present in the courtroom of additional district and sessions judge Pervez Iqbal Sipra at the time of the incident yesterday dared to rescue the policeman from the clutches of the lawyers, sources said.
The lawyers even threatened some reporters who witnessed the incident and told them to leave the courtroom.
After assaulting the policeman, the lawyers grabbed his legs and dragged him out of the court.
They continued punching and kicking him until he fainted.
Policemen from Islampura police station later reached the spot and took Khalil to hospital.
Sources said a widow named Azra Bibi got her three daughters recovered from Karachi with the help of a political party's women's wing.
She alleged that her relative Muhammad Iftikhar alias Goga had sold her young daughters to someone in Karachi through a "madam" of Sabzazar in Lahore.
Iftikhar told Azra Bibi that the girls would be given respectable jobs in Karachi, the woman told reporters.
She said the political party recovered and returned her daughters after paying money to persons who had purchased the girls and forced them into prostitution.
Later, the party's workers got a case registered against the "madam" and Iftikhar.
Azra Bibi said a rival political party then sent a man named Muhammad Mudassar to the Sabzazar police station and got appointed a court bailiff, alleging that the police had kept Mudassar in illegal detention with his wife.
The rival party showed Mudassar as the husband of her daughter Bakhtawar and misled the court, Azra Bibi said.
Yesterday, lawyer Rana Shakeel told the judge that the sub-inspector handed over Mudassar to the bailiff but did not release Bakhtawar.
The lawyer manhandled Azra Bibi in front of the judge and abused her daughters, who were present in the courtroom.
A Pakistan People's Party leader, who did not want to be named, asked whether the superior judiciary would take action in the matter as it had done in the case of a act PPP leader who slapped poll officials.
"Chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry was quick to take suo motu in the case of the PPP leader who slapped a woman election official. Will he initiate similar proceedings against the lawyers and the judge?" the leader asked.