ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Thursday stepped down from the bench hearing the suo motu notice over allegations that Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the chief justice, had received Rs300 to 400 million from Malik Riaz, the owner of Bahria Town, DawnNews reported.
Earlier on Wednesday, the chief justice had ignored a request made by Attorney General Irfan Qadir to recuse himself, instead of heading the bench, as commanded by the code of conduct for judges, saying the dignity of the institution being of prime importance was involved.
“The chief justice being emotional should not hear the matter,” the AG had said. But he was told that the court would pass an appropriate order on Thursday to answer the objection in the light of the Holy Quran and Sunnah as well as different precedence from the law.
Moreover on Thursday, the Supreme Court resumed its hearing of the suo motu notice which was now being heard by a two-judge bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain.
During the hearing, Zahid Bukhari, the counsel for Malik Riaz, requested the court for more time.
When the hearing began and before the chief justice stepped down from the bench, he asked senior journalist Kamran Khan whether he had any documentary evidence pertaining to the allegations against Arsalan Iftikhar.
Responding to which, Mr Khan said that Mr Riaz had shown him certain documents.
Mr Khan told the court that he had seen the record of Arsalan Iftikhar’s travel details as well as a copy of his passport and receipts. Moreover, Mr Khan said that although the documents had been shown to him by Mr Riaz, he was not provided with any copies.
In this verbal, as well as written, statement, Mr Khan told the court that payments for Arsalan Iftikhar had been made by a son-in-law of Mr Riaz.
Also during the hearing, the attorney general raised objection over the constitution of the bench, to which the chief justice agreed.
Saying he did not want to influence the case, the chief justice said he would step down from the bench.
Subsequently, the chief justice issued an interim order in which he declared that he was quitting the bench. The order moreover said that the case would be heard by a two-judge bench comprising Justice Khwaja and Justice Khilji.
Zahid Bukhari outside Supreme Court
Speaking to media representatives outside the Supreme Court, Mr Bukhari said the chief justice's decision to step down from the bench was appreciable.
He moreover said that forming a bench for the case would also be a welcome measure.
Mr Bukhari further said that Mr Riaz would appear in court once he recovers from his medical ailment.