SC dissolves Shoaib Suddle commission
08 December, 2012
ISLAMABAD: After the submission of Dr Shoaib Suddle commission's interim report about alleged Rs 342 million business deal between Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and real-estate magnate Malik Riaz Hussain, the Supreme Court has dissolved the commission, saying that this is an issue between two individuals and they can take it up at any forum.
A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, on Friday dissolved the Suddle commission while allowing findings of the report to be made public. During the hearing on Friday, Arsalan's counsel, Sardar Ishaq, requested the bench to dispose of the matter, arguing that his client's reputation was being damaged on TV channels. Likewise, Zahid Bukhari, counsel for Malik Riaz, also pleaded to stop the commission's proceedings so that whichever party wanted to take whatever legal recourse, they may approach the avenues concerned.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Affairs Fawad Chaudhry while talking to our sources said that the purpose of the commission was to "clean the dirty laundry of Arsalan Iftikhar". He also questioned why the court did not decide the legality of the commission on Malik Riaz's review petition. Fawad also said that Malik Riaz could approach Islamabad police to register a case against the chief justice's son
The CJP had himself on June 5 took notice of the alleged business deal between his son and Malik Riaz. On June 14 the court ordered the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) to take strict action against the main characters of the case – Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, Malik Riaz and his son-in-law Salman Ahmed. In its order the court had noted, "Nonetheless attempts by individuals to obstruct the course of justice are indeed a matter of serious and grave concern and imperil the reputation of the justice system at large. This is why such exchange of bribes with the attempt, even a failed one, to influence the course of justice, has been declared illegal and punishable under various laws. If proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, the parties involved are liable to be punished."
In compliance with the June 14 order, the AGP had referred the matter to NAB for a probe, but Dr Arsalan raised questions over the impartiality of NAB's Joint Investigation Team and filed a review petition against it, which was accepted by the SC. On August 30, the court formed a one-man judicial commission headed by former police official Dr Shoiab Suddle and the incumbent federal tax ombudsman to probe the alleged business deal which was aimed at influencing the judicial process.
The one-man commission was given full judicial power under the Supreme Court Rules 1980 and authorised to collect evidences either at local level or internationally, and directed to submit its findings within 30 days. According to the commission's preliminary report, the CJP's son has admitted before the Dr Shoaib Suddle Commission that he had availed two of the three foreign visits alleged by Malik Riaz. Arsalan Iftikhar has also confessed that he had received 'favours' from Malik Riaz, his friend or his son-in-law, but it does not answer why he had accepted these and the businessman's claim that he had 'favoured' Arsalan in order to get court cases settled in his favour.
According to the report, it is widely believed that the motive behind Malik Riaz's 'plan' was to defame the chief justice and bring the higher court into disrepute. On the other hand, the report is silent about how Arsalan Iftikhar became a millionaire in no time and entered into telecom contracts worth Rs 900 million. The Shoaib Suddle Commission has implicated Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and Malik Riaz in massive tax evasion of Rs 51.3 million and 119.4 billion, respectively,and recommended imposition of a penalty for concealment of assets in wealth statements filed with income tax returns.
The commission observed that there will be zero tolerance for any misconduct on Arsalan's part, as being a son of the chief justice, it is absolutely critical that the highest standards of integrity set by the chief justice are not allowed to be compromised under any circumstances.