ISLAMABAD: The new contempt of court law has barred the country’s top court from proceeding in a contempt case and the Supreme Court on Monday adjourned its decision to indict real estate tycoon Malik Riaz after his intra-court appeal.
According to the Section 12 (3) of the new contempt act, after the filing of an appeal against a decision the proceedings shall be suspended against the accused. However, the apex court’s three-judge bench directed the attorneys for Riaz and petitioners to present legal opinions till July 31 that under what laws these charges be framed against the businessman.
The apex court will also separately take up petitions challenging the new Contempt of Court Act 2012 on July 23 of this month.
The bench comprising Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Athar Saeed heard the contempt of court case against Riaz for addressing a press conference at a local hotel in Islamabad on June 16 where he allegedly ridiculed the judiciary, particularly Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
During the proceedings, Riaz’s counsel Dr Abdul Basit sarcastically remarked that it was his desire that charges be framed against Riaz, but the new law has created “hurdles”. Although the court adjourned the contempt proceedings due to the contentious new law, it, however, directed Riaz’s and petitioners attorneys to bring forward alternative legal opinions as to how to proceed further.
Meanwhile, Justice Shakirullah Jan said that the bench had studied the new contempt law and for conducting proceedings the new law would be applicable; however, the sentence would be awarded under the old law.
Attorney General (AG) Irfan Qadir stated that after the filing of an intra-court appeal further proceedings of the case could not continue. He insisted that the issue of under what law the hearing of the appeal would be conducted needed to be discussed. The AG said if the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 was applied on the proceedings then it would create constitutional and legal complications. He added that the new law stated that all the old contempt laws have been abolished with the enactment of this new contempt law.
In order to discuss this further, the court adjourned the hearing till July 31, 2012.
JIT issues fresh notices to Riaz
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has issued fresh notices to Riaz to appear before investigators probing the Dr Arsalan fiasco, according to an official statement.
The businessman requested NAB’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for a fresh date of appearance, sometime next week.
Hence, NAB issued a new summon for his appearance on July 19 (Thursday), added the statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2012.