SC closes proceedings: Commission on Arsalan-Riaz case dissolved -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

SC closes proceedings: Commission on Arsalan-Riaz case dissolved

Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: The Arsalan Iftikhar-Malik Riaz saga finally ended, at least in the Supreme Court, after it closed its proceedings on Friday and ordered the wrapping up of the commission that was appointed to investigate an alleged financial deal between the two.

The Dr Shoaib Suddle commission was dissolved after it submitted its report to the court highlighting an admission by Dr Arsalan, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, that he had availed two of the three foreign visits as alleged by real estate magnate Malik Riaz.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, which had taken up a review petition of Malik Riaz, ordered making the report public with an observation that the issue was between the two individuals who could settle it at any forum.

The judicial commission was constituted on Aug 30 on the order of the apex court to investigate the allegations of a Rs342 million business deal between Dr Arsalan and Malik Riaz. The two were caught in a long-drawn-out battle, blaming each other for financial wrongdoings.

Talking to reporter after the hearing, Dr Arsalan said he intended to file the biggest-ever damages suit in the country’s history against Malik Riaz after consulting his legal team. He said he had been protesting all along that allegations against him were baseless. Even after six months, no evidence had been produced to substantiate the allegations, he added.

“I am a responsible citizen and have never evaded any tax,” he said.

On the other hand, Advocate Zahid Bokhari, representing Malik Riaz, insisted that allegations against Dr Arsalan were correct and said his client had been raising objections over legality of the commission.

During the hearing, Advocate Bokhari argued that the commission should be dissolved so that the parties involved in the controversy could adopt whatever legal recourse they wanted by approaching another forum.

“The matter is between two individuals and does not come under corruption for plundering the national exchequer,” he said.

Advocate Sardar Mohammad Ishaq, counsel for Dr Arsalan, requested the court to dispose of the case since the reputation of his client was being tarnished by different television channels.

According to the commission’s report, Dr Arsalan admitted that he had received favours from Malik Riaz, his son-in-law or his friend. Arsalan Iftikhar admitted that he had gone to Monte Carlo from London in July 2010. He was accompanied by Ahmed Khalil, a friend of Malik Riaz’s son-in-law Salman Ahmed Khan, and Sara Hanif, wife of Ahmed Khalil.

According to the report, Malik Riaz claimed in his statement that he had paid or spent Rs342 million on Arsalan Iftikhar, but evidence about only Rs5.58m was provided to the commission.

The report also mentioned allegations against Malik Riaz, including land grab, blackmail, extortion, cheating, fraud and tax evasion. His charity work was also highlighted and questions were raised about how he could feed 150,000 people every day (as he claimed) for which over one billion rupees were spent this year, whereas his total declared income for tax purposes was Rs760 million.

“It is widely believed that the real motive behind Malik Riaz’s plan was to defame the chief justice and bring the higher judiciary into disrepute,” the report stated.