The Supreme Court’s short order in the Arsalan Iftikhar case directing the attorney general to take whatever action is necessary to investigate the charges levelled against the chief justice’s son and his son-in-law is a welcome development in that two positive things seem to have happened. The first is that the Court seems to have stepped back into investigating the allegations against the chief justice’s son and that is good because had it not done so, the Court, despite the fact that the chief justice had recused himself from the bench, would have been left open to accusations of conflict of interest. Since the matter concerned the son and son-in-law of the Supreme Court chief justice and given that it pertained to them being allegedly given favours in return for help in cases pending before the Court, it is good that the matter will now be investigated by the office of the attorney general. The second is that the law will now run its course and one hopes that it will unearth the truth.
The short order also noted that while Malik Riaz claimed that Rs327 million had been given in cash, the documents presented to the court provided only details of Arsalan Iftikhar’s foreign visits and did not contain any evidence of monetary transfers. Hence, in such a situation, it would make sense for the matter to be investigated further by law-enforcement authorities and this is precisely what seems to have been done with the directive to the attorney general. The order also noted that Malik Riaz did not provide any statement on behalf of his son-in-law and perhaps, this is also a lead that can be investigated by the attorney general.
The short order also advised the media that it needed to ensure that it was not being used by elements that were acting against the state or the Constitution. It noted further that in some instances it had attacked the judiciary and that statements made by journalists suggested that they did not try to get their facts straight. There is, for sure, a need for the media to raise its professional standards and this can be done by instituting and enforcing internal codes of conduct but one must not forget that it was the media that unearthed the matter in the first place — and that it has done so on many prior occasions as well.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.