Despite eventually tendering an unconditional apology, influential real-estate magnate Malik Riaz will be tried for his infamous open tirade against the higher judiciary some two months ago.
The former chairman of Bahria Town was indicted in a contempt of court case on Thursday by a three-judge bench, comprising Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Amir Hani Muslim – despite plenty of reservations by Riaz’s counsel and the attorney-general.
The bench, in its order, noted that, prima facie, after going through the contents of Riaz’s press conference on June 12, he attempted to ridicule the court and its judges. It added that Riaz disrespected the judiciary and caused obstruction to the administration of justice.
Rejecting the court’s decision, Riaz’s counsel, Dr Basit, presented a signed statement to the bench, stating that the charge against his client was “ambiguous” and he did not understand the indictment.
Basit maintained that the text of the charge did not contain the exact contemptuous words that Riaz had used against the judiciary.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir also concurred with Basit.
Riaz’s counsel further said the court should include the contemptuous words in the text so as to explain the charge against his client.
The bench, however, observed that the Supreme Court has all the relevant records that explain Riaz’s contemptuous actions.
The court also dismissed Basit’s request to adjourn the hearing till a decision on the new contempt law was taken. Dr Basit said that his client had already moved an intra court appeal under the annulled Contempt of Court Act 2012. Justice Afzal Khan, however, told him that the act was struck down and the current proceedings were being conducted under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.
He told him to regard the annulled act as nonexistent.
The hearing has been adjourned till August 29.
Earlier, the three-judge bench had issued a notice to Riaz on a note put forward by the Registrar of the Supreme Court under Article 204 of the Constitution, read with Section 3 of Contempt of Court Act 2003 and the Supreme Court Rules.
Riaz had tendered an unconditional apology before the bench and also moved an intra-court appeal under the annulled Contempt Act.
During his press conference, while holding a pocket-sized copy of the Holy Quran in his hand, he had hurled serious charges against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar on an issue that was sub judice, and in brazen defiance of an apex court order that very day against speaking to the media on the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.