Pakistani daily lauds chief justice for not sparing son

The superior judiciary in Pakistan has ''really come into its own'', a Pakistani daily said Friday over Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry's suo motu notice on a case that could see his own son behind bars.

Chaudhry has decided to step down from the bench hearing the suo motu case of his own son, Arsalan Iftikhar, receiving millions of rupees from powerful real-estate tycoon Malik Riaz. A two-member bench will now hear the matter.

An editorial in the News International said Chaudhry deserves unequivocal praise for having the "moral courage to take suo motu notice on a case that could see his own son behind bars".

This shows that he was not engaging in hyperbole each time he claimed that everyone was equal before the law and the law was equal for everyone, it said, adding: "He has proved that whosoever tries to pervert the course of justice will be taken to task - whether it is the chief executive of the country, the all-powerful intelligence agencies or someone from the his own family."

With senior judges calling politicians, government officials and even military commanders to account in recent times, "no one can deny now that the superior judiciary in Pakistan has really come into its own".

The daily said Chaudhry must also be lauded for deciding not to head the bench before which Arsalan Iftikhar will appear, given the obvious conflict of interest and violation of due process it could entail.

"However, before stepping down, he said that if it were up to him he would have put both Arsalan and Malik Riaz in handcuffs," it said.

The court has asked Malik Riaz to appear in court, and he must do so, not just to explain why he paid Arsalan all this money for almost three years, but also why he ultimately decided to stop doing so and went to select journalists with evidence of the payments.

"What was the purpose of doling out this money and what pushed him to ultimately out the details to senior journalists?," the editorial asked.

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