Malik Riaz fails to appear for contempt hearing

Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz waves as he leaves the Supreme Court on his contempt of court case in Islamabad. – File photo by AFP
Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court heard the contempt of court case against real estate tycoon Malik Riaz for levelling accusations against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Wednesday, DawnNews reported.

A two-judge bench of the apex court began the proceedings from which Riaz remained absent on account of ill health.

During the hearing, Advocate Dr Abdul Basit, representing Riaz, submitted a report before the bench pertaining to his client's treatment abroad.

The report stated that Riaz had a tumour and needed a period of 11 weeks for undergoing treatment abroad.

Advocate Basit moreover stated that Riaz was abroad for treatment even when the show-cause notice for contempt of court had been taken against him.

He added that his client was seriously ill and that an operation to treat his ailment had become unavoidable.

Moreover, addressing the bench, petitioner and former president of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association Chaudhry Muhammad Ashraf Gujjar said that Riaz’s appearance was mandatory in a contempt of court case against him, adding that, his treatment was also possible in Pakistan.

Gujjar reiterated that he had filed a request before the court to add Riaz's name to the Exit Control List (ECL).

Upon which, Justice Afzal said that every individual had the right to get treatment of their own preference, adding that, a trial against Riaz could also be conducted in absentia.

The bench, however, directed that Riaz must appear before it at the upcoming hearing of the case.

The bench gave the attorney general, who is the prosecutor in the case, three days' time to collect evidence for the trial.

It also directed the petitioners to produce witnesses and evidence against Riaz.

The bench also rejected Advocate Basit's request of suspending the proceedings over an intra-court appeal and adjourned the hearing to Sept 17.

Earlier, Riaz had moved an intra court appeal challenging the issuance of the show-cause notice of June 13 and the July 13 order summoning the appellant for indictment.

On Aug 9, the Supreme Court had formally indicted Riaz on charges of levelling harsh allegations against Chief Justice Iftikhar at a press conference.

A two-judge bench framed the charges for committing contempt under Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, read with Article 204 (contempt) of the Constitution and the Supreme Court Rules 1980.

The court had taken notice of the June 12 press conference Riaz had addressed after his court appearance in which he hurled three questions at the chief justice.

On June 13, the court had issued a show-cause notice to Riaz under Article 204 of the Constitution (contempt of court), read with Section 3 and 17 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance of 2003, Supreme Court Rules 1980 and all other enabling provisions in the law.

Also on Aug 9, the court had asked Attorney General Irfan Qadir to prosecute the accused once proceedings resumed.

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