ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court Saturday rejected the application of Malik Riaz Hussain for constituting a larger bench to hear the graft case involving Arsalan Iftikhar, who rejected all the allegations in his statement.
The court had taken a suo moto notice on the reports about an alleged deal – between property mogul Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalaan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – aimed at influencing the judicial process.
The chief justice said in his order that composition of the already-formed two-member bench cannot be changed by an administrative order, and the reason given in plea did not hold ground given the excellent record of the honourable judges. Therefore, now the special bench comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain would continue hearing the case from Monday to Friday (June 11-15) at 1pm.
The journalists were waited since morning for Riaz’ counsel Zahid Bukhari and Arsalan’s counsel Sardar Ishaq as they were ordered to file the concise statements of their clients on Saturday. Arsalan’s counsel did submit submitted his statement, but Malik Riaz’ counsel only submitted the application for larger bench.
In his five-page statement, the son of country’s top judge rejected all the allegations levelled against him and denied having any relationship, intimacy or acquaintance of whatsoever nature with Malik Riaz, his daughter or son-in-law whose names, he said, were unknown to him.
He stated: “It is a matter of extreme pride and privilege for me that I am son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, whose integrity is beyond doubt and it does not need any explanation as the world is witness to that. Being a son of such a towering personality I have always been careful in my private and public life. I am a 32 years old man, I earn my bread and butter through my own business and in that regard everything is above hoard, I submit my income tax returns regularly, which can be verified by any citizen of this country.”
Dr Arsalan said: “I have never met with any one of them in relation to any business or for any other purpose in Pakistan or outside the Pakistan. Therefore, baseless, frivolous and unfounded allegations have been arranged to spread in electronic and print media in absence of any cogent and logical evidence acceptable under the law of evidence so the said allegations are strongly denied.“
In order to show his bonafide, he explained that in the year 2009, he travelled on his own expenses, with his family to London and he hired a flat, details are available with him. Similarly for the year 2010 and 2011, same practice was adopted and an amount of Rs45 lacs was deposited through (cheque No.1287353 of Standard Chartered Bank, Lahore) on August 15, 2011 by his cousin namely Muhammad Aamir Rana, into Zaid Rehman’s (account No.020502000003244 Meezan Bank, Gulberg Lahore).
“I do not know that from whose credit card the rent of the flat, which I remotely remember, was around 3,200 sterling pounds, per week, was paid. Perhaps, I had stayed for four weeks, so the total rent, amounts to about 10,000 pounds. When I reached London, I had to sign occupancy agreement, by submitting the copy of my passport therefore the formalities as per rules were completed, however, the rent had already been paid.
“Likewise in 2011, (presumably) same person arranged accommodation for me and subject to final settlement as mentioned above through my cousin, I paid the above-mentioned amount. As far as said Zaid Rehman is concerned, he is known to me through one Ahmed Khaki, who happens to be his cousin and if so desired and required by this honourable court, evidence shall be led in detail in this regard, assertions to the contrary strongly denied.“
He said that Malik Riaz is liable to be dealt with strictly in accordance with law and he should be awarded adequate punishment for dragging him to the court and also maligning the august institution of judiciary. “If he had made investments, allegedly for favouring me to achieve illegal ulterior motives, he owes an explanation to the court and considering the golden principles of jurisprudence, the person who has committed a wrong is not legally entitled to claim benefits of the same, rather on account of admission of such wrongs he deserves to be punished severely.“
CJ’s son further stated that statements of anchors brought on court record are “nothing but hearsay” as same are allegedly based on the statement of Malik Riaz Hussain before them and thus are not admissible as evidence according to the law. He said that the claims of Kamran Khan, Shaheen Sehbai and Hamid Mir that some material was shown to them by Malik Riaz Hussain suffer from serious contradictions.
“No finding can be based according to the rule of evidence of the alleged material. Therefore same may be discarded straight away being inadmissible having absolutely no evidentiary value, as same is entirely based upon surmises and conjectures, above all it is the result of memories, which otherwise have no legal sanctions or sanctity attached for reading the same as evidence in the court”, he added.
Arsalan said that he would furnish comprehensive reply if any cogent legal and admissible incriminating evidence were brought about against him. He requested the court that the inadmissible material should not be used in any manner against him. “I have not been confronted with any cogent evidence to substantiate any allegation against me. In that regard, however initial burden lies upon Malik Riaz Hussain, who has alleged so, to Prima facie establish the allegations/ obligations along with explanations to the effect that, what was the motive or object behind all the exercise, which he wanted to achieve”
Arsaln said that his reply may not be considered, final and conclusive because Malik Riaz Hussain, despite categorical directions of this court has failed to appear and produce any material against him, therefore he reserve his right to put up my defence accordingly, when any incriminating evidence is produced before this court.
Syed Zahid Hussain Bokhari, counsel of Malik Riaz, filed the application for larger bench under order XI read with order XXXIII Rule 6 of Supreme Court Rules, 1980. He stated in the application that the case is of immense importance and has implication of national level as many important objections and issues are likely to arise during the hearing of the case which has been observed by the bench during its proceedings June 7. “It is in the supreme interest of justice that larger bench of court may be constituted for decision of suo-moto case for doing real justice,” he prayed.
The chief justice order stated that that on 7-6-2012 a bench comprising CJP, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain passed the order; “Having gone of these proceedings and taking into consideration arguments so put forth by the learned Attorney General and also considering the Islamic Injunction the hearing of this case shall continue by this bench minus one of us (Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, CJ) and the case shall be fixed before the said bench after the conclusion of regular hearing listed before us today (Thursday)”.
As a result of above judicial order, the bench comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain was constituted. Therefore, now without adhering to the procedure laid down under constitution and law the composition of this bench by an administrative order cannot be changed.
In addition to it the ground so urged in the application for constituting a larger bench itself does not disclose a reason to accede to the request because under order XXV, Rule 2 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, a bench consisting of not less than two judges is empowered to hear the case dealing with all the important questions of the constitution and the law.
There are a number of cases of important nature which have been decided by two honorable members. Reference be made to the case of fraud in payment of Rental Power Plants detected by NEPRAS (Human Rights Case No. 7734-G/2009 & 1003-G/2010) recently decided wherein important questions were also involved. No doubt in the instant case as well important questions are involved, however, the honorable judges ceased with the matter are quite competent to decide the same.
“Thus for the foregoing reason the application so filed for constitution of larger Bench is rejected. All concerned be informed about the passing of instant order accordingly.”
Agencies add: In a related development, renowned lawyer and leading social-legal activist Asma Jahangir has rejected a request from Malik Riaz to plead his case against Dr Arsalan. Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) former president Saturday told a private TV channel she turned down the offer in view of her long association with and respect for the Supreme Court. Sources said the property mogul had telephoned Asma Jahangir from London and sought her legal assistance but she refused him.