While hearing a review petition filed by the chief justice’s son Arsalan Iftikhar, the Supreme Court issued notices to real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and Attorney General Irfan Qadir to appear before the court on July 24.
The petition was filed against a two-member special bench’s June 14 order to refer the case, on an alleged business deal between Riaz and Arsalan in an attempt to influence the judiciary, to the attorney general for investigation.
On June 14, the bench disposed of a suo motu regarding the allegations and had expected that the attorney general would set state machinery into motion so that all those accused including Malik Riaz, his son-in-law and Arsalan were investigated and brought to book if found guilty.
Appearing before Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Riaz’s counsel Zahid Hussain Bukhari raised an objection, saying that the hearing date for Arsalan’s petition was fixed in haste. He added that he did not receive any notice in the case. Bukhari further stated that the orders of the court in the case had already been implemented so the review petition had no grounds.
Riaz’s lawyer managed to irk the bench, however, when he questioned why this particular petition had been taken up when several others were pending before the court. Justice Khawaja said, “It is for the court to decide about the listing of cases and the attorneys do not have any role in this regard.”
Meanwhile, Arsalan’s counsel Sardar Ishaq alleged that the attorney general had misinterpreted the court order when he referred the case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) although the court had asked him to send the matter to the relevant government institution.
He pointed out to the bench that he had brought this issue to the notice of Attorney General Qadir as well as NAB via a letter but nobody responded.
While the bench didn’t give a clear response, Justice Khawaja observed that NAB was not part of ‘government machinery’ but was rather an independent institution which was meant to keep an eye on government officials.
Meanwhile, an anti-corruption court Special Judge Chaudhry Ameer Hussain directed Islamabad SSP Malik Yousaf to appear in the court on July 23 and explain why officials of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) and Rawalpindi police were stopped from arresting Riaz. Earlier, arrest warrants had been issued for the land magnate and his son on the orders of the trial court.
Fresh arrest warrants were then issued for them and other accused in a case of the transfer of over 175 acres of land in their names using forged documents and fake identities.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MUDASSIR RAJA IN RAWALPINDI)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2012.