ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Wednesday vowed that if his son was found involved in the Bahria Town scam, he would be punished according to the law.
The CJ was heading a three-member bench hearing a suo motu notice taken on allegations that his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar had been doled out about Rs340 million by the Bahria Town administration for favourable court decisions. The bench also comprises Justice Jawwad S Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain.The court summoned business tycoon Malik Riaz, his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, who is chief executive of Bahria Town, and the journalists concerned on Thursday along with complete record regarding the case.
When the proceedings started, no one except Col (r) Khalil, personal staff officer of Malik Riaz, was present to represent Bahria Town Private Ltd. Arsalan Iftikhar, who was defended by Sardar Ishaque advocate in the court, told the media prior to the start of the hearing that he was innocent and that he had been told not to return home until a judgment was reached.At the outset of the proceeding Attorney General Irfan Qadir raised the objection that the chief justice should not head the bench. He said: “It was a legal requirement that chief justice, being the father of Arsalan Iftikhar, should not head the bench in this case.”
The CJ replied that the court is aware of the code of conduct but it was a matter of the honour of the institution. He said the case was not of political nature and that he would not step down from the bench hearing it. The CJ said: “Though he (Arsalan) is my son but he will be dealt in accordance with law, if found guilty… We can’t give preference to anything over the institution and can go to any extent for its prestige.” The chief justice said in light of Holy Quran and Sunnah and the precedents of the law, an appropriate order will be passed on Thursday (today).
The AG, while addressing the CJ, said: “You are getting emotional on the matter that is why I am of the view that the chief justice should not sit on the bench.”To the AG’s remarks, Justice Jawwad Khawaja observed: “We do not need to get emotional.” He said this was a very serious matter for the whole country. “We are least bothered about posts and designations if the question is about the honour of the judiciary.” Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said they would not spare anyone who would defame the judiciary.
Hamid Mir, an anchor of a private TV channel who had conducted a programme on the scam on June 5, recorded his statement and presented a CD of his programme. He told the bench he had no evidence regarding the involvement of CJ’s son in corruption.But he said that Malik Riaz had showed him some documents and also claimed that he had a video as evidence against CJ’s son. Hamid Mir told the court as the news of CJ son deal with Malik Riaz was abuzz in the media, he contacted Mr Riaz, who invited him at his place and provided some material regarding the deal, which according to him were not concrete evidences.
Mir said Riaz also told him that the PPP was not involved in the episode. He said when he asked Malik Riaz at whose behest he was doing all this, Riaz told him that President Zardari and PM Yousuf Raza Gilani had told him not to touch the CJ’s son. He said when he further asked him whether this was about the issue of missing persons, Riaz did not give a straight answer.
During the proceeding, taking notice of the absence of Bahria Town officials, Justice Jawwad directed Col (r) Khalil to ask Malik Riaz to come to the court. He told the bench that Malik Riaz is undergoing a medical check-up aboard. Responding to the representative’s explanation, the chief justice inquired if Riaz had gone for treatment before the matter of his involvement with Arsalan Iftikhar came up. Moreover, Justice Khwaja asked the representative if he had been in touch with Riaz during the past 10-12 hours, which he denied.
Col (r) Khalil told the court that in the absence of Malik Riaz, 10 key officials, seven of whom were retired military officers, will deal with all the matters of Bahria Town. These ten people named by the personal staff officer of Malik Riaz are: Commodore (r) Ilyas, Wing Commander (r) Ayyaz, General (r) Ehtesham Zamir, Maj-Gen (r) Shaukat Sultan, Brig (r) Ahad, Maryam Rehman, Hamid Illyas, and Ahmed Ali Riaz, son of Malik Riaz and chief executive of Bahria Town. The court directed Col (r) Khalil to make a contact and ask them to appear before the court at 11:30am.
Vice chief executive Maryam Rehman, appearing before the court along with other officials of Bahria Town, said that Malik Riaz is in London, while Ahmed Ali Riaz is in Dubai. To a question, she said that Malik Riaz has resigned from his post. Commodore Illyas told the court the members of the Board were responsible for different projects of Bahria Town. The chief justice asked him to tell which General distributed millions of rupees.
Islamabad Acting Inspector General Police Bin Yamin told the court that he received notice from SC Registrar office at about 5:40am. He further said the SSP Islamabad delivered the court order to a man named Raja Muhammad for the chairman of the Bahrai Town at 7am.The court also directed the chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to produce all the record of Bahria Town so that they may issue appropriate order to the Board of Directors.
The SC office was directed to place before the court copies of the transcript of the Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan’s programme and Shaheen Sehbai’s interview. The chief executive officer of the private TV channel that run the programmes was ordered to appear before the court in person and present Shaheen Sehbai’s interview. Kamran Khan was told to produce the material regarding his programme.The chief justice remarked that such programmes ridicule the state institutions and should not be aired without proof. The case was adjourned until today (Thursday).
After days of the capital being abuzz with rumours of the mega corruption scandal allegedly involving his son, the CJ on Tuesday took a suo moto notice and summoned Arsalan Iftikhar Chaudhry, Bahria Town chief executive Malik Riaz, and Attorney General Irfan Qadir.The electronic and social media have in the last few days been rife with reports about Arsalan Iftikhar allegedly receiving millions of rupees from the Bahria Town management under different pretexts in order to influence the apex court in favour of Bahria Town cases pending with the SC.
There were also allegations that the Bahria Town management financed multiple foreign trips taken by Arsalan and the CJ’s family members and also paid for hotel and rented accommodation and cars. Additionally, there were reports of Arsalan receiving about Rs340 million in different heads from Malik Riaz.
On the other hand, it has been learnt that Malik Raiz and his son have engaged Zahid Bukhari as their counsel in this case. Sajid Tanoli, junior associate lawyer of Zahid Bukhari, confirmed that Mr Bukhari would appear on behalf of Malik Riaz and his son today (Thursday) before the Supreme Court. Bukhari is known for his being outspoken and he represented Husain Haqqani before the judicial commission that probed the memo scandal.