ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued its detailed 25-page verdict on petitions in the video case of judge Arshad Malik.
The verdict stated that it was not an appropriate stage for the Supreme Court to interfere in the matter of the relevant video and its effects, particularly when the video may have relevance to a criminal appeal presently sub judice before the Islamabad High Court.
It added that a criminal investigation was already being conducted into the matter by the Federal Investigation Agency, some other offences or illegalities under some other laws referred to by Attorney General might also entail inquiries or investigations by the competent agencies or fora and any probe into the matter by a Commission to be constituted by the Government or by this Court may end up only with an opinion which may have no relevance or admissibility in the relevant appeal pending before the Islamabad High Court.
According to the verdict, the relevant video could not be of any legal benefit to Nawaz Sharif unless it was properly produced before the Islamabad High Court in the pending appeal, its genuineness was established and then the same was proven in accordance with the law for it to be treated as evidence in the case.
The verdict authored by Chief Justice of Pakistan stated that five issues needed to be attended to by the apex court.
1) Which is the Court of forum that can presently attend to the relevant video for any meaningful consideration in the case of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif?
2) How is the relevant video to be established as a genuine piece of evidence?
3) How is the relevant video, if established to be a genuine piece of evidence, to be proved before a court of law?
4) What is the effect of the relevant video, if established to be a genuine piece of evidence and if duly proved before the relevant court, upon the conviction of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif?
5) The conduct of the learned Judge namely Mr Muhammad Arshad Malik in the episode.
The case was heard by a three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
The detailed judgement can be viewed here.
Last month, the Supreme Court took up the case on a petition submitted by a citizen named Ishtiaq Ahmed, who appealed to the apex court for an independent judicial inquiry of the video scandal.
On July 12, judge Malik was relieved from his duties by the federal government for his alleged involvement in the controversial video scandal.
During the hearing on August 20, CJP Khosa had inquired whether a petition had been filed in court to obtain any legal benefit, to which the attorney general said no petition had been filed.
The chief justice remarked that the video would be of use for the release of Nawaz Sharif when a petition is filed. He added that it remained to be seen if a forensic audit could be carried out on a copy of the video and if this was possible for a YouTube video.
IHC orders disciplinary action against Judge Malik
On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered disciplinary proceedings against judge Malik for violating the code of conduct.
The court order against Accountability Court II Judge Malik stated, “The disclosures and admissions made by Mr Muhammad Arshad Malik, District & Sessions Judge/Former Judge, Accountability Court-II, Islamabad in his press release dated 07.07.2019 and the affidavit dated 11.07.2019, prima facie, constitute acts of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct, which warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.
“Therefore, the Hon’able Chief Justice of this Court has been pleased to order to place the said Judicial Officer under suspension and repatriate to his parent department i.e. Lahore High Court, Lahore, with immediate effect, for disciplinary proceedings to be conducted in accordance with law.”
Judge Malik, after becoming embroiled in the so-called judge video scandal, had penned a letter to the IHC in July wherein he had refuted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s claims and revealed other information related to the controversy.
In an affidavit submitted to the court, Malik had denied the contents of the video — which purportedly showed him admitting to a lack of evidence against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — and termed them edited, fabricated, and aimed to defame him.
Maryam alleged that the judge had contacted Nasir Butt, a PML-N worker and told him that he was feeling guilty and having nightmares ever since he announced the verdict that led to Nawaz Sharif’s imprisonment. The judge was “blackmailed” into handing down the sentence against Nawaz Sharif after some people threatened that they would release a private video of his, she alleged.
She claimed the judge was under immense pressure to send the former prime minister to jail, and that he had contemplated committing suicide several times since. She said the judge did not write the verdict but “was made to write” the prison sentence for Nawaz Sharif.
Responding to the allegations, the accountability court judge has called the video presented by the PML-N as fake and fallacious. He has demanded legal action against those involved in producing the videotape.