The Supreme Court on Monday formally initiated contempt of court proceedings against property tycoon Malik Riaz of Bahria Town.

A two-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan began the proceedings against Malik Riaz on charges of levelling harsh allegations against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry at a press conference.

During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir submitted a list of witnesses which included the names of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain and Arsalan Iftikhar.

Justice Khan inquired of the attorney general as to what connection did the witnesses had to the contempt of court case.

The judge moreover remarked that the attorney general should have reviewed the list of witnesses, adding that, the name of an important witness was not on the list.

The bench also objected to the inclusion of the chief justice’s name on the witness list.

Addressing Qadir, Justice Khan said that there were allegations of bias against him, adding that, how could the attorney general be made to act as prosecutor in the case.

Qadir said the allegation of prejudice against him had been levelled by Arsalan Iftikhar.

Justice Khan moreover inquired as to whether an oath should be taken from a judge in case he/she was to appear as a witness.

Upon which, the attorney general said that judges had been appearing in courts in the past.

Justice Khan asked the attorney general whether he had previously acted as counsel for Malik Riaz and whether he wanted to act as prosecutor in the contempt of court case.

Qadir said such restrictions existed for judges and not for the attorney general and that the case required of him to prosecute Malik Riaz for contempt of court charges.

Justice Khan said the bench had to assess whether Qadir could act independently as prosecutor in the case.

Justice Khan said there were reservations over Qadir’s role as prosecutor in the contempt of court case against Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The bench did not permit Riaz’s counsel, Abdul Basit, to present his arguments over the issue of prosecutor.

Basit said the proceedings were being carried out against Riaz and that his client had the right to stress that the procedures be carried out properly.

Basit said the court did not have the authority to change the prosecutor in the case.

Adjourning the hearing to Sept 20, the bench said a verdict in the case would be issued on the said date.

On August 9, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Khan had formally indicted Riaz on charges of levelling harsh allegations against the chief justice.

It is pertinent to mention that the court had asked Attorney General Irfan Qadir to submit a list of witnesses and evidence to the court.