Arsalan Iftikhar Case: SC vows action over defaming judiciary

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday warned of stern action against anyone who tries to defame the judiciary, as it summoned business tycoon Malik Riaz, his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, the chief executive of Bahria Town, today (Thursday) along with complete record of allegations they have levelled against Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the chief justice of Pakistan.

The court also directed Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman to produce all the record of Bahria Town so that it may issue an appropriate order to its board of directors. The SC Registrar’s office was asked to place before the court copies of the transcripts of the programmes by private TV channels’ hosts Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan and Shaheen Sehbai‘s interview. The chief executive officer of the private TV channel on which the programmes were run was ordered to appear before the court in person along with Sehbai’s interview. Kamran Khan was told to produce the material regarding his programme.

The court observed that the programmes that ridiculed state institutions should not be aired without proof. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain heard suo motu case of allegations of a business deal between Malik Riaz and Arsalan Iftikhar, seen as an attempt to influence judiciary. At the start of proceedings, Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir objected to the chief justice heading the bench. “It was a legal requirement that chief justice, being the father of Arsalan Iftikhar, should not head the bench in this case,” he argued.

Responding to his concern, the chief justice said, “Though he (Arsalan) is my son but he will be dealt with in accordance with law if found guilty.” He added, “We can’t give preference to anything over the institution and for the sake of its prestige can go to any extent.” The chief justice said an appropriate order would be passed tomorrow in light of the holy Quran and Sunnah and the precedents of law.

Meanwhile, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain observed the court would not spare anyone who defames judiciary. He said everybody present in the courtroom would see justice being done. “We have no sympathy with anyone as we have taken oath under the constitution,” he remarked. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja termed the issue a very serious matter for the country. “We are least bothered about posts and designations if the question is about the honour of the judiciary.”

Col (r) Khalil, personal staff officer of Malik Riaz, represented Bahria Town Private Ltd in the court, whereas Arsalan Iftikhar appeared along with his counsel Sardar Ishaq. Taking notice of absence of Bahria Town officials, the court directed Col Khalil to ask Malik Riaz to come to the court.

Col Khalil told the bench that Malik Riaz was undergoing medical check-up aboard, and in his absence 10 key officials were dealing with all the matters of Bahria Town. The court directed him to contact them and ask them to appear before the court in the next hearing. Another official of Bahria Town informed the bench that Ahmed Ali Riaz was in Dubai.

Hamid Mir, who conducted a programme on June 5 about the allegations against the chief justice’s son, presented a CD of the programme. He told the court he contacted Malik Riaz on the alleged deal between him and the chief justice’s son. Riaz gave him some material regarding the deal, which according to him was not concrete evidence. The hearing of the case was adjourned until today (Thursday).

Arsalan Iftikhar Case: SC vows action over defaming judiciary