Fake ID of registrar used to contact UK firms, SC told
By: Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed on Thursday that the fake identity of its registrar Dr Faqir Hussain had been used to seek tax returns and verification of receipts from UK companies which had provided services to Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, with expense paid by real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.
A report published in Pulse magazine last Sunday had accused the registrar of overstepping jurisdiction by directly approaching the companies and sending them emails seeking information about personal finances.
A special bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain was informed by the court’s IT department that the fake identity of the registrar had been used to send these emails. It said the emails had neither been sent by the registrar nor through the court’s system. The registrar, the court was told, had informed the magazine about the use of his fake identity but it did not bother to publish an apology.
The court asked the magazine’s chief editor Mohsin Beg and publication editor Rao Samar to appear before it on August 1 to explain their position. The bench is hearing a review petition of Dr Arsalan challenging the formation of a joint team to investigate the alleged charges of corruption against him and Malik Riaz.
The controversy about summoning the registrar by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Arsalan case continued on Thursday, with the court observing how the bureau could summon him in a case which was not related to him.
NAB Prosecutor General K.K. Agha informed the court that Dr Faqir had been summoned in his personnel capacity in connection with an inquiry into the Arsalan case. He said the registrar’s reply was not behoving his stature as it gave an impression that he was above the law.
Justice Jawwad defended the registrar’s reply and said it was very decent. He said the court was very sensitive to matters relating to judicial independence. “Had I received such notice from NAB my reply would have been much stronger,” he remarked.
Justice Jawwad was of the opinion that it should have been clearly mentioned in the notice that the registrar was being summoned in his personal capacity, along with reasons for summoning him. “Do not follow old thana culture where if an SHO summons someone he is brought before him without any justification.”
The court asked NAB to investigate the matter as an ordinary case. It refused to issue a restraining order against investigation into the graft charges and asked NAB to continue it in a transparent manner. Dr Arsalan through his counsel requested the court to restrain the joint team from investigating the matter till a final decision on his review petition.
The court ordered NAB’s prosecutor general to investigate Salman Ali Khan, son-in-law of Malik Riaz, and said it appeared that the joint investigation team (JIT) was missing the main link in the case. K.K. Agha said the JIT had asked Salman to appear before it next week.
Zahid Bukhari, the counsel for Malik Riaz, objected to the court’s verbal direction to the NAB prosecutor general for summoning Salman and said it should not monitor the investigation process. “Keep it in your mind that it is a review petition. You have some limitations in this case which should be followed,” he said.
Justice Jawwad assured the counsel that everything would be done in accordance with the law. The court asked him that it was the court’s order to produce the recorded statement of Malik Riaz, along with the concise statement of NAB about the case.
K.K. Agha said members of the JIT probing the case were confused because of allegations levelled by Dr Arsalan, particularly against SP Faisal Bashir Memon that he was a crony of Malik Riaz.