SC orders strict action against Riaz, Arsalan
15 June, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Disposing of the suo motu case regarding allegations of a business deal between business magnate Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar in an attempt to influence the judicial process, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the attorney general of Pakistan to take strict action against the main characters of the case – Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, Malik Riaz and his son-in-law Salman Ahmed.
The court also rejected a plea of Malik Riaz's counsel Zahid Bokhari of forming a commission to probe the case or handing it over to an investigation agency.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, while issuing a 14-page short order, observed, "This suo motu action has been brought to an end in view of the material considered above, the learned attorney general who has assisted us in this case is fully abreast of all aspects of this case. It is our expectation that he will set the machinery of the state in motion so that all those who may have committed any illegal acts, including Malik Riaz Hussain, Dr Arsalan, Salman Ali Khan etc are pursued and brought to book with the full force and rigour of the law."
The Supreme Court ruled that Malik Riaz tried to buy justice through bribery, which was an offense under law. "The one who takes bribe and the one who gives bribe, both will go to hell," the SC order said, citing a saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
According to the ruling in the Arsalan Iftikhar case, business tycoon Malik Riaz, who is also chairman of Bahria Foundation, used money as bribe and "tried to purchase the law".
"God is guardian of the institution of judiciary which is not under any threat," Justice Jawwad said while concluding the case.
After announcement of the judgement, Attorney General Irfan Qadir, while talking to the media, said the matter could be referred to the National Accountability Bureau as trial of the case could be conducted under Section 9A of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance 2000.
The court observed that no affidavit or statement of Salman Ali Khan, whether confirming or denying any transactions between him and Dr Arsalan or their relationship inter se, had been filed by Malik Riaz.
The court also said further, "It appears that Malik Riaz may not have encountered failure in the past in receiving favours against payments of illegal gratification. He may, therefore, in his own mind, have considered the lack of any relief or favourable orders from the Supreme Court as simply an attempt to extort money from him. With such thinking, it may not have crossed his mind and he may actually have missed the reality that the Court was only doing its job in accordance with the law and the constitution, dealing with cases solely on the basis of merit. His logic, perhaps not so strange to him."
Regarding the role of media, the court observed that the series of events, which comprised the run-up to this suo motu case, also raised concerns about the issues of media law and ethics.
"The ethic and legal framework of the media requires fairness and objectivity; it requires that journalists conduct due diligence before reporting any news so that rumours and insinuations are filtered out, particularly in matters of grave significance such as ones arising in this case. Even when they have come across a particular information, fair conduct requires it is checked and rechecked," it added.
Justice Khawaja opined that when a resourceful person like Malik Riaz had been forced to concede failure in his attempt to compromise the integrity and independence of the superior judiciary, despite the alleged payment of Rs 340 million, the public could rest assured that the gains of their struggle had not yet been frittered away. On this basis, the suo motu action was brought to an end.