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Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD, July 25: A special bench of the Supreme Court said on Wednesday it wondered why the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had summoned SC Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain while investigating a case involving Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and his son-in-law.

Hearing a review petition of Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, against the court’s June 14 orders to proceed against all those involved in the graft scam and Bahria Town cases, the bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain expressed surprise over the move and noted that it was a controversy involving three individuals.

Sardar Ishaq, the counsel for Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, said it was part of a propaganda campaign launched against the apex court by Malik Riaz.

Zahid Bokhari, the counsel for Malik Riaz, urged the court not to consider it a controversy between Malik Riaz and the Supreme Court, but between his client and Dr Arsalan. The court remarked that it would look into the matter because the registrar’s issue was related to the court and asked Dr Arsalan’s lawyer to confine himself to his case.

Sardar Ishaq read out his review petition and Attorney General Irfan Qadir’s letter to NAB and argued that he had misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s order and started meddling in the investigation by an independent accountability body. He pointed out that the attorney general also sought a fortnightly report and settled the mode of the investigation which showed his bias.

The court expressed concern over the language used by Zahid Bokhari for judges. In his statement, the attorney general said all judges of the country were working independently under the supervision of the chief justice.

Expressing no-confidence in Attorney General Irfan Qadir, Sardar Ishaq asked the court that, instead of the NAB, FIA or Islamabad Police which were working under the influence of Malik Riaz or Rehman Malik, a retired judge of the superior court or a retired bureaucrat of Grade-22 should conduct the inquiry.

On June 14, the bench had asked Mr Qadir to investigate the allegations of a business deal between property tycoon Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. Referring to the court’s orders in this regard, he said he had written a letter to the NAB chairman asking him to conduct an investigation into the case.

Sardar Ishaq told the court that the NAB chairman was reluctant to investigate the issue and the matter did not come under NAB’s ambit. Later, a joint investigation team was constituted on the orders of the attorney general. “In response to this move, I wrote a letter to the NAB chairman warning him not to become a puppet in the matter, but he did not reply to me and held a press conference and criticised the contents of my letter,” Mr Ishaq said. He said the JIT was due to leave for the UK to record the statement of Salman Khan.

Zahid Bokhari objected the court’s hearing and asked why this case was being heard in the late hours. He claimed that media men and lawyers were also not happy with long hours of hearings. But the lawyers and journalists stood up and rebutted Mr Bokhari’s claim. He said he was diabetic and it took him more than an hour to reach home.

Justice Khilji said the court was also under pressure. “You decide amongst yourself and we will proceed accordingly.”

Dr Arsalan’s petition mentions Mr Qadir’s profile and history of his cases in the Supreme Court against his illegal appointment and alleges that the attorney general is biased because of his rivalry with his father, the chief justice.

The petition alleges that there is no provision in the NAB Ordinance under which NAB can take action and there is no single provision to authorise the NAB chairman to constitute and select members of such a joint investigation team on the directive of the attorney general.

On the request of Zahid Bokhari, the court adjourned the hearing to Thursday.

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