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Pak SC dissolves panel probing charges against CJ's son

December 07, 2012 15:49 IST

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday dissolved an inquiry commission a day after it said that Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's son had admitted that he made two foreign visits that were paid for by real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain and his associates.

The court also ruled that there was no need for any further proceedings in the matter.

The inquiry commission headed by former Intelligence Bureau chief Shoaib Suddle was formed by the apex court after Hussain alleged earlier this year that he funded three foreign trips by the Chief Justice's son and spent Rs 342 million on him to influence cases in the Supreme Court.

A two-judge bench of the apex court ruled that the inquiry commission should be wound up. It further said there was no need for further proceedings in the matter as it involved two private individuals.

The development could fuel the impression that the apex court has been acting in a partisan manner to shield Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of the chief justice.
Chaudhry himself has been under a cloud since Hussain made the allegations against his son.

According to the inquiry commission's preliminary report, which was released to the media on Thursday, Arsalan admitted to the panel that he had made two foreign visits that were funded by Hussain and his associates.

Arsalan further admitted that he had received favours from Hussain, his friend and his son-in-law and that he had visited Monte Carlo in July 2010.

He said he was accompanied by Ahmed Khalil, a friend of Hussain's son-in-law Salman Ahmed Khan and Sara Hanif, the wife of Khalil.

He also admitted that he had travelled to London with his family on June 19 last year and stayed there till July 21. Accommodation and transport arrangements were made by Khan, he said. Hussain alleged that Rs 8.86 million was spent by his son-in-law on the visit to Monte Carlo.

The commission's report said it had received evidence of the payment of Rs 1.86 million through a cheque, a credit card and electronic transfer, though it had no proof about the remaining amount being spent.

Rs 5.9 million was spent on the second visit to London and documentary evidence of expenditures of Rs 3.7 million was provided to the commission.

Though Hussain had alleged that he had spent Rs 342 million on Arsalan, the commission's report said the tycoon had provided evidence for payments amounting to Rs 5.58 million.

The report made a mention of Bahria Town, the real estate company owned by Hussain, which was accused of land grab, blackmail, extortion, cheating, fraud and tax evasion.

The report also referred to Hussain's charity work and questioned how he could spend Rs 1.09 billion this year to feed 150,000 people every day while his total declared income for tax purposes was Rs 760 million.

At the same time, the commission's report raised questions about Arsalan's sources of income. Arsalan provided income tax returns of two firms and declared an income of Rs 2.8 million for 2010 and 2011.

"Prima facie, investigation into the bank accounts (of Iftikhar) shows deposits of Rs 58.9 million, which means that deposits of Rs 56.1 million are disproportionate to his declared income," the report said.

Rezaul H Laskar Islamabad
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