Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Achilles’ heel for Chief Justice?

June 7, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi

According to a Greek legend “Thetis, the mother of Achilles, tried to make her son invulnerable by dipping him in the river Styx. She dipped his whole body except the heel by which she held him. In the Trojan War, Achilles was wounded by an arrow on the same un-dipped spot of heels and died”. Figuratively it means a weak harmful spot of a strong person.

Is Dr. Arsalan going to be the Achilles heel for a remarkable chief justice of the supreme court of Pakistan? The reputation of Dr. Arsalan, the elder son of the incumbent chief justice of Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was already grossly tainted. Despite his superb intellect and brilliant scholasticism he has been ill-famed for his penchant for expensive cars and flamboyant demeanor and  lavish life style.

Arsalan’s profile is highly edifying and enchantingly impressive. Arsalan Iftikhar is an “international human rights lawyer, founder of and Contributing Editor for Islamic Magazine in Washington D.C.”

He is a distinguished scholar, an acknowledged debater, and a celebrated intellectual. Arsalan graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1999 and received his law doctorate from Washington University School of Law in 2003.

A native of Chicago, he specializes in international human rights law and is licensed to practice law in Washington DC.As such he is a distinguished expert of law and should have been entirely mindful of the noxious consequences for getting into a sleazy association with cutthroat businessmen. 

Despite all these high sounding merits and spectacular distinctions, was he under the erroneous delusion that his rapport and collusion with the dubious characters would remain unnoticed? He career as a promising lawyer and as an eminent social activist is doomed if convicted

Arsalan Iftikhar Chaudhry is alleged to have accepted bribes worth $3 million to $4 million (40 crores rupees) from the chairman Bahria Town Malik Riaz who is known for his ties with the “president, several leading politicians and the military”.

It is simply mind boggling that the elder son of a chief justice with immaculate reputation of being absolutely honest and steadfast in dispensing justice could be flouting his father’s principles of integrity, modesty displayed as the uncompromising custodian of justice.

It looks bizarre to think of Dr. Arsalan as falling into the avarice and loathsome temptation of accepting huge amounts of grafts from a businessman who by design was cultivating him for bargaining on his cases pending before the courts.

How could Dr Arsalan believe that he could influence or persuade his father who was serving the pristine cause of justice with his nose to the grindstone? It is shameful and most insidious betrayal by a highly educated son with international fame to trample the glorious conduct of his father who has emerged as symbol of democracy and rule of law despite heavy odds and diabolic antagonism from the present government and a former military head of state.

Or was he being cultivated to blackmail the chief justice with a choice either to drop the pending cases against some high profile government functionaries and also Malik Riaz or face the calumny through his non-challant son.

The decision of the chief justice to take suo moto notice of the reports about the corruption of his son is a milestone in the judicial history of Pakistan. Amid accusations of conflict of interest and on the objections of the attorney general as well the defense lawyer about hearing the case, he has diassociated himself from the proceedings of the case.
Even if the son of chief justice was trapped for settlement with his father for certain cases, the fact should not be overlooked that the case is going to be a double-edged sword. Dr. Arsalan has no future that he would have been aspiring to look forward. He would go to the jail for a few years if the case of graft is proven against him.

But in the wake of the proceedings, the other party would also be exposed in many ways. The two member Supreme Court panel of judges has called for the business details and accounts of Mali Riaz and also of Behria Town. It is like opening a Pandora box that cannot be sealed again even if the parties try to do so. There would be many cats out of the bag and many beans spilled before the entire country and the world at large.

The evidence presented by two well known TV anchors before the apex court is not enough to make a strong case against the defendant. The accusing party which in this case is none as the case is suo moto. However the persons who are being named by other sources will have to come forward with sound proof and incontrovertible evidence to prove Dr. Arsalan as the culprit.

While they do so, it would be both the parties namely Dr Arsalan as the graft taker and the other party with Malik Riaz as the bribe giver to be culpable before the law. Both will be convicted as giving and taking of bribe are both punishable under the law. All the more when the rumors were floated first through the press and media patently with the motive of embarrassing the chief justice and presumably to force him to go soft on certain gubernatorial cases which he could not.  

Since the Arsalan’s episode was made public, the Chief Justice an unbending jurist had to respond the way he has done. Let us watch with rapt attention as to how the case proceeds and what comes out that could further embellish the noble cause of justice and reinforce the supremacy of law in Pakistan. 

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