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Malik Riaz challenges probe panel

September 12, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Sept 11: Property tycoon Malik Riaz filed on Tuesday a petition in the Supreme Court requesting a review of a ruling which has already come under review on a petition earlier moved by his adversary Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

They are locked in a battle, accusing each other of financial wrongdoings.

A petition seeking review of a verdict on another review petition is unheard of and a novel idea since review pleas usually are the last resort with a very limited scope to mend errors if starkly evident in a judicial pronouncement.

The petition filed by Malik Riaz’s counsel Zahid Hussain Bokhari under Article 188 of the Constitution (Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to review judgments or orders) requested the court to recall its August 30 order in which it had appointed Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Mohammad Shoaib Suddle as a one-man commission to investigate allegations of a Rs342 million business deal between Dr Arsalan and Malik Riaz.

Dr Suddle had earlier conducted an inquiry into the Isaf containers scam.

Instead, the petition said, the court should have enforced its June 14 ruling in true spirit in the supreme interest of justice. In the said verdict, the court had ordered Attorney General Irfan Qadir to set the state machinery in motion and look into the matter.

“The August 30 verdict is not sustainable in law because it has resulted in miscarriage of justice,” the petition said. It argued that the Supreme Court had no authority under any provision of Constitution or the Supreme Court Rules 1980 to appoint a commission on a review petition without declaring the June 14 order illegal and incorrect.

The August 30 ruling amounted to giving preferential treatment to a party, the petition said, adding that the court was not justified to delegate judicial powers of a police executive officer to the one-man commission. Similarly, the commission could not perform judicial function.

The petition contended that the court could also not delegate its power to the commission which performed only ministerial function, the extent and scope of which was limited, narrow and clearly defined in the Supreme Court Rules.

The petition alleged that Dr Suddle had been repeatedly admired by the chief justice because he had special relations and intimacy with his son. “Dr Shoaib Suddle was one of the guests at the marriage function of Dr Arsalan and the chief justice also attended the wedding ceremony of Dr Suddle’s son,” the petition said, adding that these social relations would be a hurdle in conducting a fair inquiry into the matter.

The petition said the commission’s head might refrain from submitting an adverse report against Dr Arsalan in the wake of an appeal pending before the Sindh High Court against the acquittal of Dr Suddle in a murder case.

It said the judicial history was full of judgments in which courts had ruled against interfering in investigations and changing investigators of their choice. It recalled that Musa Gilani and Chaudhry Moonis Elahi had also alleged that investigators were biased, but the court did not interfere or appoint other persons to investigate the cases against them.

But in the case of Dr Arsalan, the petition said, the court had changed the NAB’s investigation team and handed over the case to the court-appointed commission on a review petition which amounted to changing the law of review.