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Pak SC adjourns contempt proceedings against tycoon

By Rezaul H Laskar
June 14, 2012 13:48 IST
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Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned contempt proceedings against a real estate tycoon -- at the centre of a corruption scandal involving Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's son -- after the businessman sought time to hire a lawyer.

A three-judge bench led by Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan adjourned the matter till June 21 when tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain told the court he needed time to engage a counsel.

The bench rejected a petition's demand for Hussain's name to be included in the Exit Control List so that he could not travel out of the country, saying his behaviour did not indicate that he would "run away".

The bench barred Hussain from speaking to the media until the contempt of court case is decided. The businessman left the Supreme Court complex without speaking to journalists.

The bench on Wednesday initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Hussain after he levelled several allegations against the Chief Justice.

The bench issued him a show-cause notice and directed him to personally appear in court today.

In a short order, the bench said Hussain's remarks at a news conference on Tuesday had ridiculed, scandalised, insulted and maligned the judiciary. The remarks were an attempt to spread hatred against judges and to undermine the authority of the judiciary, the bench said.

The bench clubbed the suo motu case with a petition filed by a lawyer named Ashraf Gujjar, who asked the apex court to launch contempt of court proceedings against the tycoon.

An unscheduled meeting of the judges of the apex court on Wednesday took notice of allegations levelled against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry by the tycoon.

Hussain, the founder of the Bahria Town real estate firm, had alleged at the news conference that the Chief Justice was aware of a scam involving his son for six months but had taken no action.

Hussain further alleged that the Chief Justice's son, Arsalan Iftikhar, was running the judiciary like a "don".

Another meeting of all the judges of the Supreme Court is scheduled to be held on June 15 to discuss the issue involving the Chief Justice's son and other matters.

Hussain addressed the news conference after appearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday in connection with a suo motu case regarding payments allegedly made to the Chief Justice's son to influence cases involving Bahria Town.

During the news conference, Hussain contended that he had not paid any bribes but was "blackmailed" into making payments to the Chief Justice's son.

During his appearance in court, Hussain submitted a statement that said his relatives had made payments totaling Rs 342.5 million to the Chief Justice's son.

The Chief Justice initiated the suo motu proceedings against his son last week but subsequently recused himself from the case following criticism from legal experts and political parties.

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Rezaul H Laskar In Islamabad
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