ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday reserved judgment on whether Attorney General (AG) Irfan Qadir should act as a prosecutor in Malik Riaz contempt of court case following the disclosure that he had remained a lawyer of the business tycoon.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry was hearing the contempt case against Malik Riaz for addressing press conference on June 12, in which he had ridiculed the judiciary, particularly Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The attorney general on Saturday had submitted a list of witnesses in the case against Malik Riaz. The list contains the names of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, Registrar Supreme Court Dr Faqir Hussain, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Salman Ali and Ahmad Khalil.

During the hearing, Malik Riaz was present in the court. The petitioners including Ashraf Gujar, former president Islamabad High Court Bar Association, also submitted their lists of witnesses. The attorney general said the persons mentioned in his list had direct bearing on the case.

The court, while objecting to the inclusion of chief justice’s name among the witnesses, said the affidavit could be obtained from any judge but he could not be called to the witness box.

Justice Ijaz asked the attorney general that his job was to prosecute the accused and not to defend him. The court further asked him to review his list and cautioned him that he was trying to influence the court.

The court inquired what the attorney general wanted to prove by presenting these witnesses, to which he replied the witnesses in the list were directly related to the case. Addressing the attorney general, Justice Ejaz said notices had issued to him for being biased in many cases.  “In this situation how could you perform as prosecutor independently,” the court asked.”

“In ex-prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s case, your role was not satisfactory,” said Justice Ejaz. The attorney general said in Gilani’s case, he acted as an independent prosecutor, which was the requirement of his position.

Justice Ijaz Chaudhry said, “How you would perform an independent role in this case; as you were a lawyer of Malik Riaz.” Qadir replied that this restriction was for the judge and not for the post of attorney general. The AG said in order to prove Malik Riaz as liar, the chief justice must appear before the court. The honourable judge said: “It seemed that you are contesting Malik Riaz’ case; therefore, we have to see whether you would act as independent prosecutor or not?”

Dr Abdul Basit, counsel for Malik Riaz, said according to the law, attorney general performed as prosecutor in contempt matters. “It would not be right if the attorney general is removed from performing as prosecutor in this case.”

“As far as chief justice’s personality is concerned, the senior judge should hear this case,” Basit added. “If the chief justice comes to the witness box then his respect would be enhanced, but if he doesn’t come, Malik Riaz is innocent in this case,” Basit argued and prayed the court to wait for the decision of his review petition. The court after hearing the AG and Dr Basit reserved the judgment on Qadir’s role as prosecutor.