Dawn News

In a perfect world

In Pakistan narrative trumps fact. Its juicy gossip we’re after. A thrilling story. When simple truth does not suffice, a ripping good yarn takes precedence. In the case of Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar, with reports surfacing of detailed ‘dossiers’ of information stretching over two-three years, the possibility of a grand conspiracy against the judiciary seems all the more likely. Though the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has levelled the blame at the Federal Government, the more likely candidate is surely elsewhere. It’s no secret that Malik Riaz’s deepest connections are far more institutionally entrenched than mere politicians, who come and go with the tide.

It is important to note, however, that at the heart of all these distressing narratives there are allegations of illegality and impropriety at the highest levels. With public confidence in the legal system as a whole already at a low, it is critical to maintain the perception of integrity which the Supreme Court currently enjoys, lest the whole edifice come crashing down around us. Unfortunately, the manner in which the process is being handled leaves it open to further criticism.

The single most problematic issue in ‘Family-gate’ is the initiation of the suo moto case by Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar’s father. Even though the Chief Justice has already stepped down from the bench hearing the case (which was the correct thing to have done in light of the Code of Conduct), there will always remain the possibility of an allegation by those who wish to malign the Supreme Court, that the initiation of the inquiry pre-empted a full and forthright investigation into the matter by the concerned authorities. This is now a moot point, since very little can be done about it at this stage. It is unfortunate though, that should the apex Court come to a final decision and then further evidence come to light, it would be put in a very embarrassing position indeed.

The other issue, though more complex, is remediable. The problem is that from a legal perspective, there are three distinct allegations at play. Firstly, there is the question of whether or not Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar accepted monetary favours in exchange for attempting to influence the course of a judicial decision. Next, whether Malik Riaz, either himself or through people acting on his behalf, attempted to influence the course of a judicial decision by giving monetary favours. The final allegation, and the only one of national importance, is whether or not an apex Court decision was in fact influenced in any way. Problematically, the third issue can only be determined once the first two have been decided. Perhaps it is for this reason, that the Supreme Court is collectively hearing evidence in relation to the scandal under its suo moto jurisdiction.

Since suo moto proceedings are essentially discretionary (as Supreme Court decisions have indicated in the past), propriety demands that they should be resorted to only when the legal process has been frustrated. In the present case, the legal process has not yet been given a chance. It seems to me, that the proper course of action would be to initiate criminal proceedings against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, Malik Riaz and the individuals who purportedly acted on behalf of the latter. Thereafter, an inquiry should be held, not by serving, but retired judges, into the question of whether any influence was at play in the relevant Supreme Court decisions, no matter how unlikely this may sound. In the meanwhile, the Chief Justice should recuse himself from all matters having any possible nexus whatsoever with the allegations made. This appears to me to be the only way to once and for all, pre-empt any possible allegation of impropriety which may be made in the future.

When faced with a truly challenging situation, it is only natural to balk. The Supreme Court finds itself within such a morass now. But it is only by wading through the thicket that we can cut a path for others to come. What we need from the Supreme Court today is a precedent for the future. An example of how things will be handled differently from now on: in a manner which is both ethically unassailable and legally principled.

The writer is a lawyer practicing in Karachi.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (43) Closed

Capt Mansur
Jun 12, 2012 08:23pm
very true and correct article. JISSE KEY LAATHEE USKE BAHENSS"....no other way to descrtibe this whole saga. Nothing will happen to the High flying, High spending son of CJ Chaudhary..I can guarantee that...so sad.
Jun 12, 2012 08:41pm
CJ we believe in you...I just wish that you become our President...
Jun 12, 2012 08:44pm
it is an objective analysis of the situation
Jun 12, 2012 08:48pm
Oh physician heal thyself,
Jun 12, 2012 09:11pm
if this case is further probed , the CJ might be asked to appear in the witness box, it would be humiliating and insulting for the judiciary and the whole nation.if dr arslan knows that he is not going to win this case ,i think he should withdraw from this case as this would save us from further embarrassment.
Jun 12, 2012 02:32pm
The wrirer ,to me, appears to be prejudiced against judiciary.
Moosa M.
Jun 12, 2012 02:38pm
The people of Pakistan will like to see the real justice in this case. This would only be possible by constituting a commission under the retired judges of the calibre of Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid and Ajmal Mian and should not be shadowed by other decisions pending in the supreme court at the moment like it has been done by over the night decision of Memogate. Supreme court's credibility is at stake today.
Jun 13, 2012 06:29am
The issue should have been investigated by any investigative organ as per the Criminal Procedure Code, the court can not become the complainant and the judge at the same time as it is inconsistent with the natural justic.
Haider Imtiaz
Jun 13, 2012 06:03am
The writer's suggestions are balanced and well thought. Completely agree with him. I hope the Supreme Court is able to set the right precedent and the institution as a whole is saved from destruction.
Zeba Aziz
Jun 13, 2012 05:51am
This is a private case between two individuals Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalaan who are adults over 30 and most likely not under the influence of their fathers. Money exchanged was not tax payers money unlike in cases involving Moosa Glani, his other brother and Moonis Elahi. I feel even if CJ knew he could probably not influence his son. Suggest CJ should stay put in his job as a lot of public interest cases which are beneficial to the common man are pending. We let the corrupt stay in their job but tell honest people to leave. Pity this Nation.
Yaseen Mirza
Jun 13, 2012 09:48am
In my opinion the best thing that can be done by the chief Justice of Pakistan is that,that he should resign and rest of the Honourable Judges should hear this case. It will restore people's confidence upon Judiciary and Chief Justice of Pakistan. If Arsalan Iftikhar is guilty, he must be punished and if there is some conspiracy against the chief Justice and Judiciary then the conspirators must be unveiled and their face should be brought before the people of Pakistan.
Jun 13, 2012 04:36am
Lets call spade a spade, the money taken by arsalan landedat CJ 's house and for the sake of justice, the CJ should not be part of supreme court or the case should be sent to NAB.
Mehtab Khan
Jun 13, 2012 04:27am
A good quote from Thomas Jefferson as to who can keep the government pure and governors honest. Undoubtedly the people alone , if ( IF WELL INFORMED ), are capable of preventing the corruption of power. Hence there is a big if and who is going to keep the Pakistani people well informed. Are they spared from the daily hardships of living. The answer is big NO . The majority is unable to meet ends meet. How and who will keep them informed , not to speak of providing decent education for them and their children.
Jun 13, 2012 03:00am
Now there is no escaping when own house of CJ is on fire. CJ even engulfed SC. Now is the time when CJ should save the institution if any thing worth while has been left behind after four years of judicial heroism(I mean activism)
Jun 13, 2012 02:22am
Riaz Malik should not share his secret with media, so his ill intentions shows he think himself above law, he should have registred his case with NAB, but he himslef would be punished so he avoided, he tryed to trap CJ in fact not his SON, and ultimately will be trapped himself. ALLHA KI LATHI BEAWAZ HEY, Malik riaz has deprived poor and weak people from their native towns,now their voices will be listened. After Rehman Malik's fate Riaz has jumped into a dirty pond,he made himself dirty.
Jun 13, 2012 01:28am
I think it is time the Chief Justice should ponder resigning.
mohsin meghani
Jun 13, 2012 12:20am
The judiciary in Pakistan has gone into the hands of certain like minded group and its sad for the future of the country.This we know happened before during Zias era and its repeating .All the efforts to bring an independent and unbiased judiciary was a farce and I think the people are regretting.
Jun 14, 2012 12:31am
Disagree. This is not a case that can be brushed under the carpet similar to the hundreds and thousands of other cases in Pakistan. Our media will not allow that.
Jun 14, 2012 12:21am
Here most ppl requesting CJ to resign, unfortunately the future looks faded without CJ as he is the only one taking difficult decisions. i strongly object the idea of resignation as that would put judiciary on reverse track
Jun 13, 2012 08:41pm
It looks CJ is indirectly involved in this corruption.
Jun 13, 2012 05:28pm
I fully endorse your views
Jun 13, 2012 04:43pm
If this was a progressive country CJ would have resigned by now.
Jun 12, 2012 03:28pm
the Supreme Court, that the initiation of the inquiry preempted a full and forthright investigation into the matter by the concerned authorities Yousuf Nasim ; Could you give one example when concerned authorities investigated anything without court suo moto ? Government is totally dysfunctional, President & Prime Minister have defied every order issued by court.
Muhammad Ishaq
Jun 12, 2012 05:15pm
Our court has fallen to the depth from where it will never recover. Our judges are not free minds. They could not hear cases of each other because they have appointed each other. They all have vested interest in their survival, even if found corrupt, they couldn't dare make such judgement on their appointing authority.
Cyrus Howell
Jun 12, 2012 04:30pm
How things will be handled differently from now on. + "Who will govern the governors? There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government" -- Thomas Jefferson
Cyrus Howell
Jun 12, 2012 04:05pm
"At the heart of all these distressing narratives there are allegations of illegality and impropriety at the highest levels" ... and the lowest levels. + The powerful in Pakistan have set the precedent and example for all the people - Every Man For Himself. - Take Care of Yourself First. In Karachi it is - Every Thief For Himself. When the Pakistan Military is not in charge you have no country.
S.K Barlaas
Jun 12, 2012 06:39pm
Nothing is going to happen and both the Raiz and Arsalan will be freed from this case. So called independent C.J and Independent Judges of S.C are doing Drama to prove that they are honest.
Jun 12, 2012 09:50pm
A logical and sensible approach - this is how judicial mandate can be preserved
Mushtaq Ahmed
Jun 12, 2012 09:50pm
Short & sweet ; " ethical & legal ". That's how every civilized national leaders attempt to promote in their deeds. High ups in Govt e.g President , Prime Minister & now Judiciary tainted by " allegations " either by themselves or by their near ones is truly a pathetic spectacle. In such a situation, State machinery is dysfunctional , policy makers clueless & nation hapless. Just wondering if there is deeper pit to fall ?
Jun 13, 2012 01:45pm
do you have any proof?
Razi A. Shah
Jun 12, 2012 02:08pm
I salute the very brilliant legal minds in Pakistan. These are very rich facts and there are very disturbed Pakistani minds. One way or the other, something dramatic should happen. It is what, I should call, that "SHOCKS THE CONSCIOUS OF ANY COURT".
Abdul Waheed
Jun 12, 2012 01:44pm
Taking suo moto action by Supreme Court was seemingly aimed at suppressing the matter, to intimidate Maik Raiz and saving Dr. Arsalan. This case falls into the ambit of NAB and should have been investigated by that apex anti corruption institution. In this case there is ample belief that Arsaln Iftikhar amassed huge money apparently using the position of his father as no person can become millionaire in 2-3 yaers without some apparent big housing project. Still we hope that some sane elements in Supreme Court will refer the case to NAB for thorough investigation
M I T Bercha
Jun 13, 2012 07:06am
Some Recommendations to those in power, politics and also to unfortunate Pakistanis: 1 ... As 7 -8 Judges in SC (Choudharys, Ramdays, Khosas, Khawajas, Khiljis etc) are acting as a Judicial Cartel, it is time for the honest few amongst the remaining to come forward and clean the judiciary through judicial revolt while those unfortunate over 60 judges who lost lifelong careers including Kurds, Tariqs, Ahsans, Munirs etc of the bar will follow suit by breaking their silence; coming Friday's meeting is the God given opportunity. 2 ... The govt should intervene in Arslan's case by launching its own investigation and keep it dragging till coming elections while NAB doesn't need anybody's direction to initiate one at their own; Mr. President you have all the rights and legality now to do so. Contd.......
M I T Bercha
Jun 13, 2012 07:06am
3 ... The Big ones at Security Agencies have got an excellent opportunity to payback to CJ & his Judicial Cartel for projecting our country's elite security agencies as criminal gangs and human rights violators all over the world including for releasing of murderers/terrorists of lal Masjid, LeJ, TTP and so many others; go ahead, nation is with you for all your sacrifices and pains that your jawans and officers have endured in last so many years.
Jun 13, 2012 07:13am
good article and mostly good comments. only a few left to still recognize law in all this chaos.
Jun 13, 2012 07:36am
Now it known that CJ knew about this 6 months back. Suddenly why this sue moto. Asking Malik to show tax details. Not asking fromArsalan any details how you got all the money. Now it is very clear. The way Arsalan speaks,he pretends to be honest. A really wondeful person.
Jun 13, 2012 07:49am
strict implementation of a law is the biggest cause of its failure in an emerging democracy and an undeveloped country applying extremely high standards of honesty and integrity on government officials and ministers can only result in chaos as is evident now
Jun 13, 2012 07:53am
Excellent article. The only way to 'trump' the grand conspiracy is to conduct an impartial investigation. But this has been ruled out via the suo moto. I don't understand how their lordships can even contemplate over-riding an investigation in a case such as this. Even if the CJ has recused himself, doesn't there still remain an institutional conflict of interest. Shouldn't the Supreme Court, in toto, recuse itself to achieve any semblance of transparency. Or is this such an ephemeral attribute that we clutch at any straw, thereby failing to see the forest for the trees?
Kamran Khan
Jun 13, 2012 08:48am
the people who criticise CJ do not know his integrity. He is the man who does not have any political or financial gains. He had taken a bold stand against Musharref and he is standing against the corrupt ruling mafia. He will emerge victorious. The matter will definitely be reffered to NAB or FIA if the need be. we must keep our faith in the one and only institution-judiciary in Pakistan. it will not let us down.
Jun 13, 2012 08:55am
ironic but true
Jun 14, 2012 03:35am
Yusuf Nasim has expressed his views in his blog. Everyone has the right to agree or disagree with him. If anybody disagrees with him he can propound his arguments for or against the writer. Just the sweeping remarks against the writer or the court are not the desirable things to do. Let the court deal with the case. Pakistani public has the full confidence on the present judiciary and feel that justice will prevail.
Jun 14, 2012 04:41am
I think CJ son is corrupt like most of the people in Pakistan and CJ knew about it
arif a khan
Jun 14, 2012 06:48am
so very true, but both Riaz & Arsalaan should face the music at full volume.