The ugly scenes played out at the premises of our courts are only a symptom of an ailing justice system. The way the matter of alleged contempt of court by the President of the Multan bench was handled shows that there is a gap of institutional communication or trust between the bench and the bar. Those who are responsible to help others get justice are sometimes seen at loggerheads with each other. The decorum, integrity, and respect of legal institutions are compromised when the judges are intimidated and the lawyers are thrashed in the premises of a courtroom. Strengthening our justice system requires curing the disease than treating the symptoms in a haphazard manner. In this regard, I draw the attention of the bench and bar on three chronic issues: over politicisation of bar councils, lack of institutional approach for legal reforms, and poor accountability of the bench and the bar.Firstly, the primary mandate of the bar councils is to regulate the legal profession. However, they seem to ignore its primary function and are heavily focused on the politics of it. A few members who hold stakes in bar politics generally support entrants in the legal profession not as a ‘mentor’ but rather as ‘bar leaders’. Increased political activities sometimes translate into abuse and violence against individuals, groups of lawyers, and members of the judiciary. It affects the overall ranking and decorum of the legal profession in Pakistan and also puts a question mark on the ability of bar leaders to upgrade the legal profession and handle crisis. Secondly, a collaborative and integrated approach for legal reforms is seldom adopted. Lack of institutional approach for legal reforms, thus, makes the process of reforms intensively subjective and unsystematic — the best legal reforms, sometimes, badly fail. Individualistic approach for legal reforms fails to get cooperation and ownership by the relevant stakeholders. It potentially widens the gap between the bench and the bar. It occasionally turns into hatred and contempt towards each other.Thirdly, the accountability of the bench and the bar is selective, secretive and weak. The accountability procedure provided under the Bar Council Acts, in case of lawyers, and the 1973 Constitution, in case of superior court judges, are both flawed. These laws provide overwhelming powers to lawyers and judges, in case of accountability, which offends the basic principle of accountability — that neutral arbitrators should hold them accountable. Further, an audit of the accountability is rarely conducted or made public in order to improve the system. Reportedly, there are many complaints pending against the lawyers and superior court judges but were of no effective conclusion. Once a lawyer is granted a license to practice and a judge is appointed, his unbecoming conduct and poor performance are rarely made the basis for their removal or there is hardly ever any effective legal action against them. Such a weak mechanism of accountability promotes corruption and incompetence. It is yet to be realised in Pakistan that the bench and the bar are wheels of a chariot. If lawyers are obliged to bow in courts, the judges should also respect them. None of them can claim superiority of any kind over the others. The bench cannot deliver justice without the proper assistance of the lawyers. If any of them is incompetent, the quality of justice would decline and the people would suffer. It must be acknowledged that lawyers and judges are both prone to human error; thus, they should be willing to listen each other to improve their professional conduct. The unholy attack on the edifice of justice and manhandling of lawyers is not a wise and long-lasting solution but are rather a part of the problem.The sooner the legal community is able to recognise and de-politicise bar councils, adopt an institutional approach for introducing integrated legal reforms, and refine accountability mechanisms for lawyers and superior court judges, the better it will be for everyone concerned. People feel dissatisfied and lose their hope when they see judicial institution crumbling at the hands of those who are, in fact, responsible to protect the same. By the way, how can the bench and bar command moral authority over others without observing the code of conduct and legal ethics? It is high time for members of the legal profession to prevent the disease rather than treating the symptoms. It is expected that the legal fraternity reform our justice system and bow before the majesty of law to protect basic rights of people. The writer is a lawyer Published in Daily Times, September 20th 2017.