ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry today initiated suo motu proceedings against his son Arsalan Iftikhar following allegations in the media that he was paid up to Rs 400 million by a real estate tycoon to influence cases in the apex court.
The Pakistani capital had been abuzz with reports of improper links between the Chief Justice’s son and Malik Riaz Hussain, the real estate tycoon and one of the country’s richest men.
The apex court took suo moto notice of the issue late last night after several TV news channels reported the alleged links between Iftikhar and Hussain.
During the proceedings, Attorney General Irfan Qadir objected to the Chief Justice’s inclusion in the bench, saying it amounted to conflict of interest.
The Chief Justice took note of the Attorney General’s objection and pledged that anyone, including his son, who affected the dignity of the apex court would not be spared.
The Chief Justice said if allegations against his son were proved true, he would be punished in accordance with the law.
The Chief Justice directed the parties involved in the case to produce evidence in the court by tomorrow.
A statement issued by the Supreme Court said it had taken note of reports on various TV channels about an alleged business deal between Hussain and Iftikhar “with a view to influence the judicial process”.
“It is reported that the said Malik Riaz Hussain paid 300400 million rupees to Arsalan and also sponsored his foreign visits.
“It is alleged that these favors were extended to Arsalan so as to influence his father, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, to have a soft corner for Malik Riaz Hussain and get favors in his cases pending before the Supreme Court,” the statement said. Before the hearing, Iftikhar told reporters he was innocent and that the Chief Justice had told him not to return home till the matter was settled by the apex court.
Hussain, the owner of the posh Bahria Town gated community on the outskirts of Islamabad, did not appear in court.
His aide told the bench that he was in Britain for medical treatment. The tycoon is facing a number of cases in the Supreme Court.
These cases were filed by a number of persons who have accused Hussain of grabbing large chunks of land and merging them into Bahria Town.
Media commentators have questioned the timing of the leaks regarding links between the business tycoon, who is known to be close to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, and the Chief Justice’s son.
In recent weeks, the Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.
On April 26, the apex court convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on contempt for refusing to reopen the corruption cases against Zardari, which were closed under a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007.
That amnesty was annulled by the apex court in 2009.
The apex court has also suspended the membership of parliament of Farahnaz Ispahani and Rehman Malik, two close aides of Zardari, on the ground that they have dual nationality.
Malik was yesterday appointed an advisor to the Prime Minister so that he could continue heading the Interior Ministry. -PTI