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Malik Riaz indicted for contempt

August 09, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Aug 9: The Supreme Court formally indicted property tycoon Malik Riaz on Thursday on charges of levelling harsh allegations against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry at a press conference.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Athar Saeed 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 Malik Riaz had addressed after his court appearance in which he hurled three questions at the chief justice.

On June 13, the court issued a show-cause notice to Malik Riaz, the owner of Bahria Town, 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.

On Thursday, the court asked Attorney General Irfan Qadir to prosecute the accused when it will resume the proceedings on August 29.

However, Advocate Dr Abdul Basit, representing Malik Riaz, denied that his client had ridiculed the judiciary at the press conference and drew the court’s attention to an intra-court appeal moved under the Contempt of Court Act 2012, which was struck down by the court on Wednesday.

But his request for halting the present proceedings was ignored by the court with Justice Afzal reminding him that the law under which he had filed the appeal was no longer in the field and that the instant proceedings were being conducted under the contempt ordinance of 2003.

Dr Basit contended that his client had moved the intra-court appeal when the contempt act of 2012 was in place. He said the charges against his client were ambiguous and he did not understand the indictment. The text of the charge, the counsel said, did not contain the words showing that his client had uttered contemptuous words against the judiciary and asked the bench to include the disdainful words in the text so as to explain the charge against his client.

The court said it had all the relevant record to explain the contempt committed by Malik Riaz.

At a previous hearing Malik Riaz had tendered an unconditional apology before the bench for his press conference.