ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday threw the ball in the government's court, directing it to try Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry's son, Dr Arsalan Chaudhry, property mogul Malik Riaz Hussain and his son-in-law Salman Ahmed, and award them maximum punishment under the law for allegedly indulging in corruption.
The two-member special bench rejected any special investigation to be conducted by a judicial or administrative commission or the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and stood for the ordinary course of law as followed in other cases. It avoidedreferring the case to any specific agency and left it entirely to the government to proceed as per the law.
But the court handed over Dr Arsalan to the government to do what it prefers under the law. The Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 will apply in the instant case, which provides a maximum sentence of seven years to those found guilty, prominent lawyer Syed Mohammad Tayyab told The News.
He said when this law was invoked, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was entrusted with the probe and prosecution of the accused in courts.The procedure, according to Tayyab, to be followed by the FIA, would be that it would first investigate the case and when it concluded that an offence was made out, it would register an FIR. He said the case would be tried by the special judge, Central Anti-Corruption Court, Rawalpindi, in which the normal course would be followed providing all parties an ample opportunity to present their side of the story.
The lawyer said the FIA’s conclusion whether a case should be registered or not would be fundamental. He said after the preliminary inquiry, a director level officer of the FIA would give approval to the registration of an FIR against the accused.
Tayyab said the NAB law also covered such offences. However, importantly in this case, the public money was not involved. Additionally, the apex court turned down the proposals of Malik Riaz’s lawyer Zahid Bokhari and Attorney General Irfan Qadir that the case be referred to the NAB.
But even after the court order, the attorney general said the case might be sent to the NAB. He told reporters that if the money was returned voluntarily, no investigation would be carried out. In case of a plea bargain, the investigation would stop.”Being the chief prosecutor and principal law officer of the government, the attorney general will give his advice to the authorities concerned about the case as he has been directed by the bench to proceed against three persons to award them the severest punishment,” Tayyab said.
He said the government would take the final decision in the light of the attorney general’s advice to proceed further. In this case, he said, the federal government would be the prosecuting agency through the FIA.
He was of the view that the police would not be involved in this case because the matter did not fall in their purview. He said the FIA was the concerned agency in this connection. However, a question that would come up before the investigating and prosecuting agency would be whether and how it could proceed against the British national Salman Ahmed.