Dr Arsalan Iftikhar case: Verdict clears court, judges of wrongdoing

Suo motu disposed of; attorney general asked to proceed against all parties; Riaz given seven days to hire lawyer.

Qaiser Zulfiqar June 15, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


The scandal started off as a barrage of revelations last Tuesday, casting a deep shadow over the integrity of the superior judiciary.


Ten days later, it died with a whimper when a two-judge bench divested the apex court of any involvement in the alleged corruption case involving real estate magnate Malik Riaz, and the chief justice’s son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar.

Courtroom Number 1 was filled to the brim on Thursday as a two-member bench, comprising Justice Jawad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, read out the 44-page verdict in the suo motu case.

Arsalan’s counsel, Sardar Ishaq, stood at the rostrum while Riaz’s counsel Zahid Bukhari sat next to the attorney general’s seat. Both listened in intently as the verdict was read out.

The bench noted that Riaz had conceded that the apex court, or the superior judiciary, was not involved in any act that would cast a doubt on its integrity.

It, therefore, disposed of the suo motu, but directed the attorney general to proceed according to the law and bring all culprits to book – including Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Salman Ali Khan and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar – for attempting to influence the judiciary.

While shadows over the court’s reputation may have dispersed, there may be a long battle for Riaz, who also faces contempt proceedings, and others.

Court’s reputation

According to the verdict, Riaz, in his statement, confirmed that he met with journalists and showed them ‘documentary evidence’ of payments made to Arsalan, in exchange for promises to gain favors for Riaz from the Supreme Court.

Riaz had also stated that, to date, no favor was actually given to him by the court.

“To a large extent, this statement settles the question of public importance,” the verdict said. “If the man, who is accusing Dr. Arsalan of involvement  in wrongdoing, himself concedes that the court, as an institution, or its judges have never been involved in any such act, then the aspersion cast on the court’s reputation stands cleared.”

“Any doubts which may have arisen in the mind of the public can now be safely put to rest since the person who is supposed to have created these doubts with the help of certain segments of the media, has made an admission on record and cleared the situation,” the verdict added.

Punishment, if guilty

Justice Khwaja also stressed on punishment – under section 163 (illegal gratification using personal influence over public servant), section 383 (extortion), section 415 and section 420 (cheating)  of  the  Pakistan Penal Code, and  section  9  of  the  National  Accountability  Ordinance, 1999 – for Riaz’s son-in-law and Dr. Arsalan if it is proven that the latter received money from the former in exchange of promises of illegal favors.

The judge observed that no statement confirming or denying any transactions between Salman and Dr. Arsalan, or their relationship, was filed by Riaz in the court.

Even the dates of such cash transfers or their location have not been indicated, he added.

Justice Khwaja said that the Supreme Court, being the last and highest forum of appeal, cannot judge the guilt or innocence of the parties concerned without evidence or trial, which is the job of lower courts. At the end, Justice Khwaja cited passage from a Hadith, saying the giver and taker of bribe are both doomed to hell fire, and disposed of the suo motu.

Contempt case

The episode, however, is not over for Malik Riaz.

A three-judge special bench of the apex court gave the property magnate seven days in contempt of court case to hire a counsel for his defense.

Riaz had appeared before the bench, headed by Justice Shakirullah Jan, and requested for time, saying he could not engage a lawyer for his defense.

The bench, however, appreciated Riaz for appearing before the court on short notices and decided not to call for placing his name on the Exit Control List. The court also restricted him from interacting with the media on issues pending before the court.

“Have you understood Mr. Riaz”? Justice Shakirullah asked.

“Sir, I can not speak English. Can you please explain to me in Urdu,” Riaz replied, eliciting a laughter in the courtroom.

The court was later adjourned till June 21.

Earlier, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had taken a suo motu notice of Malik Riaz’s presser on Tuesday, on the request of the Registrar Supreme Court Dr. Faqir Hussain.

(Read: The SC’s short order)

Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.

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COMMENTS (20)

Zulfiqar Ali | 8 years ago | Reply | Recommend

Asslam o Alikum!

i have never seen a Judge who ever had made decisions so bravely without any fare. Muslim should have fear of Allah. It is my DOA and ofcourse all the paskistani should have that CJ live long Allah give him courage and power(Istaqamat) that he keep on the track of right path. i have never seen any Judge brought the any Police or FIA or any agenecy Chief to Court and ask them about their responsibilties. He is Role Model for all other institution work can be done like this. We can serve the Nation and our People like this.

"SALAAM TO CHIEF JUSTICE"

"TRUTH IS ALWAYS PERVAIL AND FALSEHOOD ALWAYS PERISHABLE"

Fauzia | 8 years ago | Reply | Recommend

Thank you CJ for showing us that things can be done on time and people can get decisions on their cases if they want to be done. I wish to hear the decisons on the major suo motos as well and people being punished on the wrong doingsinstead of being seeing them taking so much time!!

It is a sad moment. I agree with most of the comments, this case and fast track decision is saying a lot of things-----

As said above I wish other peoples cases are also taken up so quickly, I have a case going and there are hardly any judges in Sindh High Court! The case keeps delaying---

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