Accepting Dr Arsalan Iftikhar’s review petition on Thursday, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that it was unsatisfied with the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) inquiry into the financial impropriety case against the former.
Questioning NAB’s role in the case and its two letters addressed to the SC registrar, the court snatched all investigative authority from the bureau and constituted a one-member commission, comprising former police official Dr Shoaib Suddle, to probe the case.
Once the court releases its directives, Dr Suddle will have to complete his investigation within 30 days. He will be granted the powers of a magistrate and be able to call assistance from lawyers and deploy state machinery as needed.
The commission will launch an inquiry against property developer Malik Riaz, Dr Arsalan and Riaz’s son-in-law Salman Ahmed. The commission would also probe SP Faisal Bashir and his subordinate officer’s link with Riaz along with their professional misconduct.
The SC’s judgment was immediately rejected by Riaz’s counsel Zahid Bokhari. Talking to media at the Lahore High Court premises, he said the court should have constituted the commission after hearing both parties in the case.
“Appointing an investigating officer on the will of one party is both illegal and unconstitutional,” he stated. Bokhari maintained that Dr Arsalan never countered the allegations he faced and chose to criticise NAB’s investigation instead. He added that it seemed Arsalan’s attempt was successful following the SC’s judgement.
Bokhari further said that his client intended to challenge the formation of the commission.
Clarifying Suddle’s appointment, the court said it was satisfied with an earlier report he compiled in the Nato containers’ case and termed his findings ‘commendable’.
Dr Suddle currently serves as a federal tax ombudsman. He formerly served as Karachi police deputy inspector general (DIG) from June, 1995 to November, 1996. Dr Suddle completed a PhD in white collar criminology from the University of Wales Cardiff in 1988. He was also responsible for co-drafting the Police Order 2002.
Earlier on Tuesday, the SC reserved its judgment on Dr Arsalan’s review petition challenging the June 14 order regarding allegations of financial impropriety between him and Riaz. The ruling had directed the attorney general to ‘act in accordance with the law and bring all culprits in the case to book’, and granted him access to state machinery in this regard.
Following Arsalan’s objections pertaining to NAB’s joint investigation team members, bureau chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bukhari dissolved the team and decided to probe the matter himself.
However, Arsalan took the matter back to the court, arguing that Attorney General Irfan Qadir did not act in accordance with the court’s verdict and referred the matter to NAB with mala fide intentions.
Attorney general summoned
Meanwhile, the SC has decided to summon attorney general Irfan Qadir over ‘rude conduct’ with the judges during the hearing of the Arsalan Iftikhar case.
“The allegations against the attorney general are supported by the judicial record,” read the apex court judgment released on Thursday. “The office shall therefore issue a notice to the attorney general.”
The court also turned down a submission by Zahid Bokhari in favour of Qadir, observing that it was based on a misconception of established legal norms. It held that it was disturbing to see the attorney general transgress his limits by writing an objectionable letter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman and adopting unusual conduct with the court during the case proceedings.
(With additional input from our correspondent in Lahore)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2012.
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