ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed Interior Minister Rehman Malik to appear in person on the next date of hearing in the contempt of court, otherwise, an arrest warrant would be issued against him.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk and Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry was hearing the contempt case against Malik, which observed that the interior minister was not taking interest in the case.

Justice Ijaz said changing the FIA team was an intrusion in the court’s work as removal of Tariq Khosa caused much damaged to the inquiry.

Chaudhry Azhar, counsel of the interior minister, informed the court that his client could not appear before the bench due some prior engagements. He added that a reply had been submitted in the court.

The court observed that the issue of submitting reply was now past story, as the judgment in the Pakistan Steel Mills corruption case had also been announced. A three-member bench on May 16 in its judgment on the Steel Mills corruption case had noted that Malik interfered in the matter and transferred former FIA DG Tariq Khosa in December 2009. The court had issued him another notice. The bench had earlier rejected Malik’s reply on the show cause and had decided to frame the charge against him.

FIA chief Tariq Khosa was investigating the corruption in Steel Mills. The team members were making progress in the probe when investigation officer (Tariq Khosa) was transferred, but the probe continued regardless of the move. The FIA instead of nabbing the real culprits protected them.

During the proceedings, the bench questioned Chaudhry Azhar why his client tried to influence the court proceedings. Justice Ijaz said the interior minister had not been exempted from appearance in the contempt case.

The defence counsel, however, requested granting some more time, on which the case hearing was adjourned for an indefinite period.