Islamabad: Pakistan Supreme Court on Monday said it was not satisfied with Interior Minister Rehman Malik`s explanation regarding his "interference" in a probe into alleged financial irregularities in a state-run steel firm, paving the way for possible contempt proceedings against him.
The apex court had last month sought a written explanation from Malik for "interfering" in an ongoing investigation into alleged wrong-doing and financial irregularities in the Pakistan Steel Mills.
The court issued notice to Malik after initiating suo motu proceedings on the basis of a media report of alleged corruption in the state-run steel mills.
Malik personally appeared in the apex court and presented his written reply but a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said it was not satisfied with his explanation.
The court scheduled the next hearing for February 18, when the bench is expected to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Malik.
The apex court had issued notice to Malik for transferring Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) chief Tariq Khosa, describing it as an act of interference in the court`s affairs as Khosa was probing the reasons for loss of Rs 22 billion incurred by Pakistan Steel Mills.
Malik had also formed a joint investigation team to conduct the probe, claiming this was in line with the apex court`s directives. In his reply submitted to the court today, Malik answered the queries of the bench, explained his position and said he had not committed contempt of court deliberately.
He said he had formed the joint investigation team as the FIA did not have expertise to handle the case.
The bench said it was satisfied with the probe being conducted by the FIA.
The Chief Justice told Malik that the Supreme Court has never interfered in the working of Parliament and the Interior Ministry and asked why the ministry was meddling in the matters of the court.
The Chief Justice directed the Attorney General to ensure Malik`s presence at the next hearing.
According to media reports, former FIA chief Khosa, who was promoted and made a federal secretary, had been pushing the Prime Minister`s Secretariat to allow him to arrest a federal minister of state whose money exchange firm was found involved in laundering money linked to the steel mills.
Former Pakistan Steel Mills chairman Moeen Aftab Shiekh, who was sacked by Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani last year, has been accused of causing loss of billions of rupees by buying raw materials at inflated prices and slashing steel prices to benefit the Abbas Steel Group owned by businessman Riaz Lalji, an associate of President Asif Ali Zardari.