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SC rejects Malik’s apology

ISLAMABAD, March 18: The Supreme Court rejected an apology tendered by former interior minister Rehman Malik on Monday and decided to indict him for contempt of court for meddling in the investigation of Pakistan Steel Mills corruption case. Mr Malik appeared before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry but could not convince the court and tendered an unconditional apology.

The chief justice rejected his apology and said: “Let the matter be fixed by the registrar office within seven days before the court to frame the charges against Rehman Malik and the attorney general, Pakistan, to act as prosecutor in the case.”

The order said: “Though the courts use their contempt jurisdiction sparingly but when the question of institution’s sanctity is in question then we take the matter seriously.

“Prima facie we are of the opinion that the explanation coupled with apology is not sufficient to exonerate him from the charges of contempt of court.”

The former minister denied having interfered in the investigation and said: “I never intended to interfere in the judicial proceedings but only enlarged the scope of the inquiry which was already being conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).”

In his application filed on Feb 28, Mr Malik said he had always held the judiciary in high esteem, never intended to undermine its dignity and respect and neither had any intention to do so in future.

The court had issued a show-cause notice to Mr Malik on May 16 last year.

The court had noted that he had interfered in the case by transferring former FIA director general Tariq Khosa in December 2009 when he was heading a team which was making progress in investigating corruption in the PSM.

The FIA continued the investigation but the chief justice said Mr Malik should not have constituted another team for the purpose in view of the judicial order.

Mr Malik tried to seek time to file another statement and said he was going to Uzbekistan with the president on Tuesday, but Justice Gulzar Ahmed said he could not go because charges would be framed against him for contempt of court. The chief justice said: “Earlier your position was different but now you have to face the consequences because it is not incumbent on us to accept an apology at every cost.”

Mr Malik said the court had earlier pardoned those facing contempt charges once they had apologised, including some big names.

Justice Chaudhry asked if he thought he could abuse the court if other prominent people did so. Mr Malik said: “I have great respect for the judiciary and I have even appeared before the lower judiciary while being a senator and federal minister.”

The court said: “It was not a favour. You appeared before the courts because there were serious allegations against you.”

It asked Mr Malik how many other cases were pending against him.The former minister said he was facing only the National Insurance Company case in which Justice Javed Iqbal’s bench had asked him to tender an apology so that the court could exonerate him.