ISLAMABAD - The visitors were left stunned on Tuesday to notice the extraordinary security measures in place for real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, who was escorted by his personal guards, a large number of police officials in uniform and plainclothesmen, while the traffic police also put in place a special route – a treatment given only to prime minister or the president.
Though Arsalan Iftikhar arrived at the court at 11am – at the scheduled time, Malik Riaz came at 3pm, minutes prior to the case hearing. Waqar Chauhan, Special Branch additional IG and SC Security DSP escorted Riaz.
During the course of hearing in courtroom No 1, Malik Riaz and Arsalan Iftikhar looked confident. Lawyers and journalists sitting in the courtroom started whispering when counsel for Malik Riaz, Zahid Bokhari produced the material before the court to support the allegations against Arsalan.
Bokhari appeared before the two-member bench of Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and submitted a concise statement of his client containing documents about the alleged Rs 342,501,254 and Rs 2,500,000 expenditure incurred upon three family trips of Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of chief justice of Pakistan, from 2009 to 2011.
Bokhari pleaded before the court for constituting a judicial commission, handing over investigation of the case to probe agencies or to constitute a larger bench to hear the case. He said additional 83 pages were attached with the statement containing the relevant details. Responding to the bench’s query, the counsel replied that all these favors were given due to blackmailing and extortion by Dr Arsalan through his friend Ahmed Khalil, who was also a common friend of Malik Riaz’s son-in-law Salman Ahmed.
He said Salman Ahmed was a British citizen and had a property business.
Reading out a concise statement by Malik Riaz, Bokhari said his client was defrauded and cheated through his son-in-law, as Arsalan assured Salman to get favorable decisions in cases against Bahria Town pending before a bench headed by his father, the chief justice of Pakistan. He said they had the evidence that could be shared with the bench in-camera.
According to the documents provided by Malik Riaz, Arsalan’s stay in Monte Carlo cost them £8,800 and referred to two cheques cashed in name of Sana Salman and Salman Ahmed. He dispelled media reports that the government, a political party or politician was involved in the case. Bokhari said nobody provoked Malik Riaz to reveal the issue and said his son Ali Riaz or Bahria Town had no relation whatsoever with the pending issue. To a question, he admitted that since 2009, his client did not get any relief from the court. He also raised objection to the suo motu proceedings in the issue, saying no issue of public importance was involved in the instant matter.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja observed that their collective objective was that the reputation of the institution that was garnered with blood and tears of the people of Pakistan should remain unscathed. Sardar Muhammad Ishaq, counsel for Arsalan, said they would have no objection over the formation of a commission, but expressed apprehension that if the case was handed over to some investigation agency like NAB or FIA, a fair investigation would not be done. However, Justice Khiji Arif Hussain objected to it and observed that it was an issue between two individuals and from where did the question of importance rise? Justice Khawaja observed that it was incorrect to keep marginalizing investigation agencies in such a manner.
He said there would be equal treatment to everyone and by taking a decision over the issue, the bench would consider it a great trust reposed in it. Attorney General Irfan Qadir apprised the bench that the issue could be investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under Section 9 and 18 of the National Accountability Ordinance. To the bench’s query, Ghulam Nabi Yosufzai, president of Press Association of Supreme Court, appeared and stated that they had not written any code of conduct for media persons, however, PEMRA had framed the same for electronic channels, but he was not sure. To another question, he said they had not received any complaint about the media men so far. The bench adjourned hearing until June 14 after observing that they would consider the requests and suggestions made by the parties and would decide how to proceed further in the matter.