Under the scanner for the past one week, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday said “the aspersion cast on the Court's reputation stands cleared'' because the main accuser, property tycoon Malik Riaz, had repeatedly maintained that he had not got any relief in various cases from paying huge sums to the Chief Justice's son.
In the high-profile case involving Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry's son, Arsalaan Iftikhar, the Court also asked the Attorney-General to “set the machinery of the State in motion'' so that all those involved “are pursued and brought to book with the full force and rigour of the law''.
The short order has named Dr. Arsalaan and Mr. Riaz among those who should be investigated. Mr. Riaz claimed he has doled out several millions to the Chief Justice's son in the hope of influencing a slew of cases pending against his property business. Also, according to the Court, the documentary evidence furnished by Mr. Riaz substantiates only 4.5 per cent of the Rs. 342.5 million that he is alleged to have paid Dr. Arsalaan. All that has been backed up by evidence are the foreign travel and boarding bills in London and Monte Carlo; not the cash transfers, the order noted.
The other high-profile case — the contempt case against the Prime Minister — saw heated exchanges with police entering the Court of the Chief Justice as lawyers began shouting slogans against the Attorney-General.
The two cases together hogged the headlines. In the Prime Minister's case — essentially a petition challenging the ruling of the National Assembly Speaker against disqualifying the Premier — lawyers barged in support of the judiciary when Attorney-General Irfan Qadir sought to question the haste being shown by the bench in dealing with the matter. The arguments between him and the bench — presided by the Chief Justice — got heated upon which lawyers standing outside the court entered and began shouting slogans.
In anticipation of an adverse verdict, the National Assembly passed a resolution in favour of the Speaker's ruling. Even as the stage seemed poised for a clash between the judiciary and the legislature over the Premier's disqualification, tensions were brought down by the Chief Justice himself who asked the lawyers to calm down. The case is now posted for hearing on Friday. Earlier, hearing in the contempt case against Mr. Riaz — for his sweeping allegations against the Court and charge that the Chief Justice had been aware of his son's doings much before he took suo motu notice of it last week — was adjourned for seven days as the property tycoon sought time to arrange a lawyer for himself.
Apparently, Mr. Riaz — despite his deep pockets — is having trouble getting a lawyer in the contempt case because several bar associations have initiated proceedings to debar his lawyer in the Arsalaan iisue, Zahid Bokhari, for taking it. Also members have been told not to take his contempt case or face similar action.