ISLAMABAD - Zahid Bukhari, counsel for the property tycoon Malik Riaz, on Tuesday, strongly objected to the formation of a probe commission by the Supreme Court, in a case related to alleged monetary gains by Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the Chief Justice.
Appearing before a two-member bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, in response to a review plea moved by Sardar Ishaq Khan, counsel for Arsalan Iftikhar, Zahid Bukhari contended that if the court moved for the constitution of a commission headed by a retired judge, his client would strongly object to it.
He also objected to the issuance of a press release by the Registrar of Supreme Court over the pending case, saying that the official had acted beyond his authority and tried to mislead the general public.
He also rejected allegations leveled by Arsalan over the employment of the daughter of Chairman, National Accountability Bureau, in Bahria Town and the role of Attorney General Irfan Qadir.
Bukhari said that such allegations did not carry weight and her employment should not be made an issue. The bench agreed to this point that such things should not be disputed. The counsel for Riaz contended that if the NAB Chairman thought that he could do justice; his position should not be made controversial.
Justice Jawwad reminded him that in the preliminary hearing, he himself had suggested the formation of a commission.
Justice Khilji observed that the contents of the letter addressed by the Attorney General were a reason of dispute. He should have understood the judicial order correctly before taking any action.
Sardar Ishaq Khan, counsel for Arsalan, argued that the role of NAB Chairman was controversial as he was taking personal interest in the case. NAB was not authorized to constitute a joint investigation team (JIT) in the case and conduct an inquiry under Section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, he added.
He said that inquiry into the case should be transferred to an impartial entity which could probe it beyond the alleged influence of Malik Riaz and government functionaries.
He also suggested that inquiry should be conducted by a commission comprising of a retired judge.
He contended that Irfan Qadir, attorney general, during 2007 had appeared as counsel for Malik Riaz before a Lahore High Court bench and had not apprised the bench about this fact. Justice Jawwad remarked that it would be appropriate for the attorney general to have brought this fact into the notice of the bench.
“The bench did not know that he had appeared as counsel for Malik Riaz in a case, and it would have been appropriate for him to apprise the bench that due to this reason, his deputy should be assigned the responsibility,” he added.
He said the NAB Chairman and the prosecutor general also appeared to be totally confused whether the chairman had actually opened an inquiry into an offence committed under the Ordinance or had he simply initiated an inquiry for the purposes of ascertaining whether the facts before him had made out an offence. The NAB was not maintaining its independent status as it was being fully controlled and supervised by the attorney general, he added.