Malik Riaz case: CJP can't be called to witness box, says SC
18 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Raising objection over the inclusion of the chief justice's name in the attorney general's list of witnesses, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that an affidavit could be obtained from any judge but he could not be called in the witness box.
The court also reserved judgement until September 20 on whether AG Irfan Qadir should act as a prosecutor in Malik Riaz's contempt of court case following the disclosure that he had earlier remained a lawyer for the business tycoon.
A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, was hearing contempt of court case against Malik Riaz for addressing a press conference on June 12, in which he allegedly ridiculed the judiciary.
On Saturday, the AG submitted a list of witnesses in the contempt of court case against Riaz. The list contains the names of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Salman Ali and Ahmad Khalil. During the hearing, the AG said the people whose names had been mentioned in the list had direct impact on the case.
Justice Ijaz told the AG that his job was to prosecute the accused, not to defend him. The court further asked him to review his witnesses' list and cautioned that he was trying to influence the court.
The court inquired what the AG wanted to prove by presenting these witnesses. Qadir said the witnesses mentioned in the list were directly related to the case. Justice Ejaz Afzal, addressing the AG, said in many cases he had been issued notices for being biased. "In this situation, how could you perform as prosecutor independently?" the court asked. In former premier Gilani's case, "your role was not satisfactory", Justice Ejaz said.
The attorney general said in Gilani's case he acted as an independent prosecutor, which is the requirement of his position. Justice Ijaz Chaudhry said how would he perform an independent role in this case, as he was Riaz's lawyer.
Qadir said in order to prove Riaz was a liar, the CJP must appear before the court. The judge said, "It seems that you are contesting Malik Riaz's case, therefore, we have to see whether you will act as an independent prosecutor or not."
Dr Abdul Basit, counsel for Malik Riaz, said according to the law, attorney general performs as prosecutor in contempt matters. "It would not be right if attorney general was removed from performing as a prosecutor in this case."
"If the chief justice comes in the witness box then his respect would be enhanced, but if the CJP does not come then Malik Riaz is innocent in this case." The court adjourned hearing until September 20.