ISLAMABAD - Business tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain was given seven more days to engage a lawyer of his choice in the contempt of court case for allegedly ridiculing the judiciary.

Justice Shakirullah Jan heading a three-member bench, adjourned the hearing till June 28 upon the undertaking by Malik Riaz that “If I will not be able to engage counsel in seven days, the court may proceed against me in accordance with the law.” Petitioner and former president Islamabad High Court Bar Association, Ashraf Gujjar, opposing grant of one-week time to Malik Riaz for engaging a lawyer, said in the last proceedings he had made the same commitment but failed to act upon. He was of the view that these were delaying tactics. Justice Shakirullah said: “If he will create hindrance in administration of the justice the court knows how to deal with him.”

Riaz is facing contempt charges over a press conference, wherein he had allegedly scandalised and ridiculed the judiciary relating to Dr Arsalan Iftikhar issue. In the last hearing (June 14) the bench had granted Riaz seven days to engage counsel, but he was unable to do so.

Riaz, appearing before the bench, stated that he could not arrange any lawyer to represent him in the court and requested for 10 more days to engage a lawyer.

He said due to the resolutions, passed by Rawalpindi and Islamabad District Bar Associations, no one was willing to represent him in the court. “Whoever I contacted refused, even the previous ones have abandoned me,” Riaz told the bench. He said: “Even Raymond Davis was able to get a lawyer”. Before adopting the resolutions, the bar associations should consider it would not hinder the provision of justice to anyone, the court observed.

The office-bearers of the RDBA, IDBA, LHCBA, Rawalpindi bench, present in the court, said Riaz has a legal team to represent Bahria Town in more than 150 cases. They said no one was stopping Riaz from engaging a lawyer, and that the defendant could avail the services of any lawyer within his personal capacity and no bar association would cause hindrance to it.

The petitioner said instead of a week Riaz should be given four days to arrange a lawyer. Leaving him at the mercy of the court, the business tycoon said if in seven days he fails to engage a lawyer, the court could proceed against him in accordance with law.

Riaz prayed to the court to relax the ban regarding appearing on TV channels. The court asked him to avoid using any language to scandalise the judiciary and the judges which was against the conduct of court.

In his remarks, Justice Shakirullah said every citizen had the right to defence and that the state would provide Riaz with a defence attorney in case he failed to arrange one for himself.

Earlier, Riaz had requested the court to provide him stringent security on the occasion of his court appearance. In the request submitted to the apex court, the business magnate said his life was in danger and that he was receiving threats and, therefore, required strict security.

According to Riaz, some lawyers had threatened him of serious consequences during his court appearance and others had maltreated him on another occasion. He added that a media campaign was being run to incite the public against him.

The case was adjourned till June 28.

Tycoon given 1 more week to hire lawyer