ISLAMABAD, July 16: Property tycoon Malik Riaz of Bahria Town became the first beneficiary of the new contempt law on Monday when the Supreme Court on his invoking the new law postponed the framing of charge against him for hurling allegations at the chief justice.
The court had taken notice of Mr Riaz’s press conference of June 12 in which he had levelled serious allegations against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and raised three questions for the CJ to answer.
Malik Riaz, through his counsel Dr Abdul Basit, had moved an intra court appeal challenging the issuance of show-cause notice on June 13 and the July 13 order summoning the appellant for indictment.
Under section 11(3) of the Contempt of the Court Act 2012, the contempt proceedings automatically stand suspended the moment an intra court appeal is filed and the matter is referred to a larger bench for deciding the appeal.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan decided to postponed the hearing until July 31 to consider whether the appeal filed by Mr Riaz had been moved under the new contempt law or the old Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, since the show-cause notice was issued against him under the old law.
The court will examine whether section 11(3) of the new law can come into play or not.
Dr Basit told the court the new law clearly stated that it should be given effect by suspending the show-cause notice.
After seeking suggestions from Attorney General Irfan Qadir and petitioners, the court, decided to postpone Malik Riaz’s indictment till the time it was ascertained whether the appeal was instituted under the new law or the old one.
The court also issued notices to respondents on a separate application by Malik Riaz requesting it to exempt him from appearance on medical grounds. He requested the court to accept the intra court appeal as a matter of right and set aside the earlier order of summoning him for Monday.
He said no affidavit from any side was available to establish the authenticity of the press conference. Besides, he added, transcript of the press conference taken into consideration by the court was also devoid of any authenticity in the absence of a supporting affidavit.
“In this situation, the right of cross-examination available to the appellant has been infringed as there are no affidavits available on judicial records and that the appellant was not in a position to exercise the right which was available to him even at the state of preliminary hearing,” the appeal said.