ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday dropped contempt charges against real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, chairperson of Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd, after he furnished a written apology before it.

At the last hearing of the case on Feb 7, Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa while heading a three-judge SC bench had asked Malik Riaz’s counsel to furnish an apology and said the court would consider it.

Subsequently, Malik Riaz submitted a two-page apology seeking unco­nditional apology for his conduct.

“In view of the circumstance that bona fide of apology tendered not once but twice, the court is satisfied that no further proceeding is called for and these are terminated,” pronounced an order dictated by the CJP while discharging the notice eventually.

Malik Riaz was facing contempt of court charges initiated in 2012 for hurling allegations against then CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar for alleged business deals.

In his unconditional apology, real estate tycoon retracts allegations he levelled against judiciary and former CJP

The contempt proceedings were initiated on June 13, 2012 by a three-judge SC bench consisting of former judges Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Amir Hani Muslim which sat after normal court timings.

In the press conference Malik Riaz had raised three questions for Ifti­khar Chaudhry to answer against the backdrop of alleged financial wrong doings by his son Dr Arsalaan Iftikhar.

The notice was taken on a note put up by then SC registrar Dr Faqir Hus­s­ain annexing the Urdu transcript of whatever stated by Malik Riaz verbatim in the press conference on the charges of scandalising and bringing the court and its judges into hatred, ridicule, lowering the authority of the SC and also showing disrespect to the institution. The press conference had caused obstruction in the administration of the justice because of the pending cases relating to Bahria Town, the notice had alleged.

In his apology, Malik Riaz stated that he was extremely sick and needed surgery. But, he added, the genuine character of his intense remorse could be assessed from the fact that he had decided to postpone his proposed surgery and personally appear before the court to render the apology.

Contempt proceedings

In its order, the SC stated that these proceedings arose out of the press conference by Malik Riaz in which the allegations were levelled. Some of them were against former CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry and some were generalised regarding the judiciary as a whole, the order stated, add­ing that upon the commencement of the contempt proceedings Malik Riaz submitted a reply on July 3, 2012.

And even during the proceedings that followed, Malik Riaz on every stage of the proceedings maintained that he had great respect for Iftikhar Chaudhry and the entire judiciary, including the SC. His entire allegations were against the former CJP’s son, the order stated.

In his application, the order says, Malik Riaz has tendered an unconditional apology. Seven years have passed and in that period a commission was also set up to prove the allegations, but none of the parties produced anything against each other. The commission submitted the report before the apex court in which it stated that no evidence was found, adds the order.

In the last hearing, the SC was informed that Malik Riaz had to undergo a surgery in the United Kingdom but in pursuance of the court order after postponing the surgery he appeared before the bench and filed an application in which he submitted an unconditional apology.

The court noted that the applicat­ion clearly showed that he had again sought an unconditional apology from the apex court and also begged for forgiveness and committed that such conduct would not be repeated in future.

The respondent’s conduct over the past seven years shows that the apology is sincere and merits acceptance, the order says, adding that the respondent has retracted from the allegations he had levelled against the judiciary in the press conference that it was under siege and captured and also allegations against the former CJP and his son.

The respondent has submitted that he holds judiciary in the highest esteem and he shall never malign the judiciary in any manner, the order says.

According to Section 2 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, a person may at any stage submit an apology and if the court deems it can remit or discharge the sentence.

In view of these circumstances that bona fide of the apology tendered not once but twice, thus the court is satisfied that no further proceeding is called for and these are terminated, the order said while discharging the matter.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019

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