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Pak SC takes up contempt case against business tycoon

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court today slapped a suo motu contempt case against a real estate tycoon at the centre of a corruption scandal involving Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry`s son, viewing his remarks against the top judge as an attack to malign and ridicule the judiciary.

A three-judge bench led by Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan took up the suo motu case against tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain and issued a show cause notice asking him to explain why action should not taken against him. The bench summoned Hussain to personally appear in court tomorrow. In a short order, the bench said Hussain`s remarks at a news conference yesterday had ridiculed, scandalised, insulted and maligned the judiciary.

The remarks were an attempt to spread hatred against judges and to undermine the authority of judiciary, the bench said. Such comments were tantamount to contempt of court, the bench said in its order. The bench clubbed the suo motu case with a petition filed by a lawyer named Ashraf Gujjar, who asked the apex court to launch contempt of court proceedings against the tycoon.

Earlier in the day, an unscheduled meeting of the judges of the apex court took notice of allegations levelled against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry by the tycoon. The meeting directed Registrar Faqir Hussain to obtain the record of Hussain`s news conference and the transcript was later submitted to the bench headed by Justice Jan. Hussain, the founder of the Bahria Town real estate firm, had alleged at the news conference that the Chief Justice was aware of a scam involving his son for six months but had taken no action.

Hussain had further alleged that the Chief Justice`s son, Arsalan Iftikhar, was running the judiciary like a "don". The judges of the apex court gathered in the Chief Justice`s chamber this morning to discuss the tycoon`s allegations and sought a record of the businessman`s news conference. TV news channels quoted their sources as saying that the judges discussed the allegations levelled against the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice by Hussain.

Another meeting of all the judges of the Supreme Court is scheduled to be held on June 15 to discuss the issue involving the Chief Justice`s son and other matters, officials said. Hussain addressed the news conference after appearing in the Supreme Court in connection with a suo motu case regarding payments allegedly made to the Chief Justice`s son to influence cases involving Bahria Town. During the news conference, Hussain contended that he had not paid any bribes but was "blackmailed" into making payments to the Chief Justice`s son.

During his appearance in court, Hussain submitted a statement that said his relatives had made payments totalling Rs 342.5 million to the Chief Justice`s son. The Chief Justice initiated the suo motu proceedings against his son last week but subsequently recused himself from the case following criticism from legal experts and political parties. The case is currently being heard by a two-judge bench comprising Justices Jawwad Khwaja and Khilji Arif Hussain.

The next hearing of this case too is scheduled for tomorrow. The issue of the Chief Justice`s son has shaken Pakistan`s political arena at a time when the top judge had cracked down on corruption within the federal government and excesses by the armed forces, including enforced disappearances.

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