IHC decides to remove judge Arshad after video leak controversy

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has decided to remove Accountability Judge Arshad Malik from his post, officials said on Friday (today).

The IHC acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq today directed the registrar office to write a letter to the law ministry regarding relieving judge Malik of his post and repatriating him to the parent department, the Lahore High Court, a official in the IHC said.

As per section 5A of the National Accountability Ordinance, the law ministry with the consent of the chief justice of a high court appoints judges for special courts including accountability courts. The decision to remove Judge Malik has also been made in light of the said section, an IHC official told Dawn.

The judge was at the centre of a recent controversy after PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz at a press conference showed video clips to claim that the judge had met a PML-N ‘sympathiser’ to confess that he had been “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in the Al-Azizia reference.

Official told media that the IHC chief justice passed this direction after detailed deliberations. Initially, the IHC administration was indecisive about whether or not it could take action against Malik as his appointment was made by the law ministry under NAO, 1999.

However, law minister had on Thursday categorically stated that it is the sole discretion of IHC chief justice to take action against the judge or not.

Judge Malik wrote a letter to Justice Farooq earlier on Friday in which he claimed that the videos shared by Maryam were fake. He also filed an affidavit before the IHC chief justice along with his letter.

Justice Farooq after examining the matter issued an administrative order to the registrar office regarding relieving the judge of his services, the official said.

The possibility of a retrial in the Al-Azizia reference cannot be ruled out now, legal experts speaking to DawnNewsTV said.

IHC’s powers

The development comes a day after judge Malik called on the IHC acting chief justice for the second time in a week.

Legal observers believe that during his meeting with Justice Farooq, judge Malik stood by the contents of his press release he issued on Sunday in response to Maryam’s press conference where the videotape was shown.

On July 9, Justice Farooq had also called on Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa and reportedly apprised the latter of the situation and response of the accountability judge to the controversy.

But with the release of subsequent videos of the accountability judge by Maryam, the IHC acting chief justice again met judge Malik on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Minister for Law Dr Farogh Nasim had told reporters that his ministry would not initiate any proceedings against the accountability judge in connection with the leaked videos. “Under Article 203 of the Constitution, it is the high court which superintends the subordinate courts,” the minister explained, adding that special courts, including the accountability court, fell within the territorial jurisdiction of the IHC and, therefore, it was IHC chief justice who could any take action in this regard.