Attorney General Irfan Qadir’s suitability as prosecutor in the case came under the scanner on Monday as the Supreme Court formally initiated contempt of court proceedings against property tycoon Malik Riaz of Bahria Town on charges of levelling harsh allegations against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
After a lengthy debate on whether the prosecutor, Qadir, was biased, the two-member bench of the apex court reserved its verdict in the case, questioning whether the attorney general was suitable to prosecute the case further, since he had also represented Malik Riaz in various cases in the past as his counsel. The court is due to announce its judgment on September 20.
The court asked the Qadir if he had represented Riaz earlier in another case, to which he replied in the affirmative. The court then asked him if he could prosecute this case fairly, to which the attorney general said that it was his right to do so. Qadir said such restrictions existed for judges, not for the attorney general, adding that the case required him to prosecute Riaz on contempt of court charges.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan asked Qadir whether an oath should be taken from a judge in case he/she was to appear as a witness, to which the attorney general said that judges had appeared as witnesses in the past.
The attorney general submitted a list of witnesses which included the names of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain and Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
The bench also objected to the inclusion of the CJ’s name on the witness list. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan asked what connection the witnesses had with the contempt of court case, adding that the attorney general should have reviewed the list of witnesses since the name of an important witness was not on the list.
Meanwhile, Riaz’s counsel, Abdul Basit, said the court did not have the authority to change the prosecutor in the case.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.