Shoaib Suddle to probe Arsalan-Riaz controversy, rules SC
ISLAMABAD: Granting the appeal filed by Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the controversy relating to allegations of a Rs342 million business deal between Arsalan and property tycoon Malik Riaz be probed by a commission constituting Shoaib Suddle, DawnNews reported.
The ruling was issued by a two-judge bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain which had been hearing Arsalan’s petition in which he had challenged the court’s June 14 order which had asked the attorney general to handle the controversy.
The commission, constituting the former police force official and current federal tax ombudsman Shoaib Suddle, has been directed to submit its report before the bench in a period of 30 days.
The bench enabled the commission to collect all evidence pertaining to the controversy and also sanctioned that trips abroad may be undertaken for collecting proof.
Suddle would also have the authority enjoyed by a judicial officer and would also investigate the protocol given to Malik Riaz by two police officers when the real estate tycoon appeared before the Supreme Court on July 31.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had reserved its judgment on the petition moved by Arsalan.
Arsalan had challenged the June 14 order which, he claimed, contained inherent and apparent errors.
Moreover, the bench issued a notice to Attorney General Irfan Qadir over acting in excess of the court’s directives.
The bench ruled that the attorney general had overstepped his authorities in approaching the NAB for the investigation.
The bench said it had directed the attorney general to “set the machinery of the state in motion,” however, in approaching the NAB, he exceeded the instructions and in following his directives, the NAB also “lost its credibility”.
The bench moreover declared NAB’s letters to Supreme Court Registrar illegal.
In light of the June 14 order, the attorney general had ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) headed by Director General of NAB’s Financial Crimes Investigation Wing Kauser Iqbal Malik to look into the matter.
Also on Tuesday, Advocate Sardar Muhammad Ishaq, representing Arsalan, requested the court to order the transfer of the case from NAB to any other independent agency or commission which should carry out the inquiry without any influence from Malik Riaz and the federal government. “This will ensure transparency and fairness,” he said, adding that his client had no faith in the NAB inquiry.
When Advocate Ishaq requested the court to appoint a judge for the inquiry, Justice Hussain said if the counsel did not trust anyone should the court call someone from abroad.
Advocate Zahid Bokhari, representing Malik Riaz, opposed the idea of constituting a commission to look into the allegations.
But Justice Khawaja recalled that during the initial hearings the counsel himself had supported the idea of a commission similar to the one appointed to investigate the infamous memo scandal. He stressed the need for a transparent investigation into the matter.
Advocate Ishaq alleged that NAB had become controversial under the present chairman who was acting on the orders of people who had committed corruption and were involved in corrupt practices. He accused Malik Riaz of enjoying a lot of clout in Islamabad and said the NAB chairman was biased and prejudiced.