SC accepts Malik Riaz’s apology in contempt case

Bahria Town chairman had in a press conference hurled serious allegations against then CJP Iftikhar and his son Dr Arsalan over alleged business deals

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday acquitted realtor Malik Riaz from contempt of court proceedings initiated against him seven years ago.

Riaz had in a press conference hurled serious allegations against then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar over alleged business deals.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa closed the contempt proceedings after accepting a written apology by the Bahria Town chairman in which he had sought forgiveness for his “mistake”. The apology added that Riaz had postponed medical treatment to appear before the court.

The CJP noted that this was Riaz’s second apology and that the content of the first apology had been the same. The top judge further noted charges have been registered in the case but no witness testimonies had been recorded yet.

“No witness testimonies were brought before the commission formed for this matter,” CJP Khosa said, noting that in a previous hearing, Dr Arsalan had taken back his request.

He noted that the case had been pending for the past seven years.

The top judge observed that during the press conference in discussion, one phrase was slightly objectionable. “Not slightly objectionable, in fact [it] was very objectionable,” the top judge remarked.

Justice Khosa noted that in the press conference Riaz had said that the court was not independent, rather it was a hostage court and that “some don” was running it.

He added that Riaz had also said, “I am not implying that the chief justice is the don, in fact Arsalan Iftikhar is the don”.

“You have asked for forgiveness but do you also take back the allegations against the court?” Justice Khosa asked to which Riaz’s lawyer said that his client had retracted his allegations and sought forgiveness.

He noted that Riaz had postponed his surgery to appear before the court.

“It is not some favour to appear if the court calls you,” the top judge responded.

The court noted that over the past seven years, the property tycoon had not contemned the court again and that his apology seemed to be based on good intentions.

The apex court also noted that Riaz had taken back the allegations he placed on Dr Arsalan.

The apex court noted that an individual who is held in contempt can ask for forgiveness at any stage and said that there was no reason to doubt Riaz’s intentions in tendering the apology.

The court also noted that they were satisfied with his apology and were therefore acquitting the property tycoon.

The contempt proceedings against the Bahria Town chairman were initiated on June 13, 2012, by a three-judge bench comprising former judges namely Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Amir Hani Muslim that sat beyond normal court timings to issue him a show-cause notice for hurling allegations against the then chief justice at a press conference.

In his speech, Riaz had raised three questions for then CJP Chaudhry to answer against the backdrop of alleged financial wrongdoings by his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. The property tycoon had accused the then chief justice of holding late-night secret meetings.