ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday framed contempt of court charges against Malik Riaz, but the business tycoon denied them.

His indictment came five days after the court struck down the hurriedly-made Contempt of Court Act 2012 and one day after Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Asharaf too was issued contempt of court notice for his persistent disobedience in NRO implementation case.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Azmat Saeed, heard the case against Malik Riaz Hussain of ‘ridiculing the judiciary’ on June 12 in a press conference relating to the Dr Arsalan case. The court had appointed Attorney General Irfan Qadir as prosecutor in the case.

Dr Abdul Basit, counsel of Malik Riaz, denied the charges and objected to the indictment saying the charges against his client were ‘ambiguous’. He argued that the chargesheet did not contain the words explaining that Riaz had spoken any contemptuous words against the judiciary.

The counsel also asked the court to include the ‘contemptuous words’ in the text that explain charge against his client, because he would have to clear his stance. The attorney general, agreeing with Dr Basit, said that he also didn’t see the words scandalising the judiciary in the indictment.

The bench, however, said the court has all the relevant record explaining the contempt committed by the business tycoon. Ashraf Gujjar, a petitioner, remarked that the attorney general, instead of acting as the prosecutor and assisting the court, was acting like a lawyer of Malik Riaz. Gujjar and Liaquat Qureshi, another petitioner, proposed that the recording of Riaz’s contemptuous press conference could also be merged with the text so that the charge becomes clear to Dr Basit.

During the proceeding, Dr Basit also argued that his client had filed an intra-court appeal against show-cause notice as at that time Contempt of Court Act 2012 was in place. He said that soon after filing of appeal the contempt of court hearing was adjourned. He prayed the court to halt the proceedings till the appeal is heard. But the court dismissed his request.

Justice Afzal said: “The contempt of court law that was enacted has now been struck down and under the current law (Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003), the proceedings can be resumed.” He also said Contempt of Court Act 2012 should be treated as if it never existed. The case was adjourned until August 29.

The court on June 13 issued show cause notice to Malik Riaz for ‘scandalising and ridiculing’ the judiciary in his press conference. Riaz, with a pocket-sized copy of the Holy Quran in his hand, had hurled serious but contradictory charges against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, on an issue that was sub-judice, and he did so in defiance of an apex court order barring him from speaking to the media.

In that press conference, Raiz claimed he had many meetings with the chief justice, and in some of the meetings the incumbent registrar of the Supreme Court and Dr Arsalan were also present.

Riaz indicted for contempt of court