The Supreme Court announced on Friday morning its verdict in the Judge Arshad Malik video case. It has ruled that the Islamabad High Court will make all final decisions regarding the case.
The verdict was first reserved on August 20 and then announced on Friday by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. Three petitions were heard by a three-member bench comprising Justice Khosa, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed. In the written order, which has been uploaded on the Supreme Court website, the chief justice has raised five issues regarding the case.
These are: what forum should be looking at this case, how can it be proved that the video is true, how can it be proved that the video is genuine in front of a court of law through evidence, what is the impact on the Nawaz Sharif case and whether an investigation should be initiated against Judge Malik for misconduct.
The order, written by Justice Khosa, says the video matter is the jurisdiction of the Islamabad High Court. The court is already hearing Nawaz Sharif’s appeal against his conviction and if it chooses, it can make the video admissible as evidence in that case. This of course depends on whether Nawaz’s lawyers choose to submit it as evidence and are able to verify its authenticity.
The SC also said that the Islamabad High Court will also decide if Judge Malik’s conduct necessitates a retrial in the case. It can either reappraise the evidence itself and decide the appeal on its merits or remand the case to the trial court for re-deciding the case after hearing of arguments of the parties on the basis of the evidence already recorded.
The judges refused to comment on the contents of the video and the video itself, citing its sub-judice nature (it’s being heard in the Islamabad High Court) but did comment on Judge Malik’s conduct.
“His admitted conduct emerging from that press release and the affidavit stinks and the stench of such stinking conduct has the tendency to bring bad name to the entire judiciary as an institution,” read the order. “He had unabashedly admitted in the press release and the affidavit that he had a shady past and had skeletons in his cupboard for which he was vulnerable to blackmail, during the trial being conducted by him he had been holding private meetings with sympathizers of the accused person being tried by him, he was threatened and inducements were offered to him during the trial but he had not reported the same to any superior authority and had never considered recusing from the trial, after convicting the accused person in the trial he had met the convict at his residence in a different city, he had even met a son of the convict in a different country and finally he had tried to help the convict in his appeal filed against his own judgment by dictating some grounds of appeal and pointing out some stated weaknesses in the case against the convict convicted by him,” the judges wrote.
“Such admitted conduct of the Judge was shocking, to say the least, besides being abhorrent and offensive to the image of a Judge in the society. His sordid and disgusting conduct has made the thousands of honest, upright, fair and proper Judges in the country hang their heads in shame,” it concluded.
On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court repatriated the former accountability court judge to the Lahore High Court for initiation of “disciplinary proceedings” against him.
Judge Malik had sentenced former premier Nawaz Sharif to jail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case. Nawaz’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, had alleged that the accountability court judge was pressured into sentencing the former premier.
During an explosive press conference on July 6, Maryam had claimed the judge was blackmailed into convicting Nawaz without any evidence and had admitted that. According to her, Judge Malik had himself called PML-N leader Nasir Butt to his house to clear his conscience. She had also shown a video clip from their meeting.
Judge Malik, however, had said the video clip was not representative of their conversation. He had said it was cut and edited and was not reflective of what he said. The judge had said the PML-N, more notably Nawaz’s family, tried to bribe him during the former premier’s trial and when he didn’t cooperate, they threatened him.
On July 12, the IHC acting chief justice had asked the Ministry of Law to remove Judge Malik from his position as an accountability court judge until an investigation into the video scandal was completed.
The IHC said the disclosures made by the judge in his earlier press release and affidavit with regard to the video scandal “constitute acts of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct”.
“The disclosures and admissions made by Mr Mohammad Arshad Malik… prima facie, constitute acts of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct, which warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him,” read the IHC notification.
“Therefore, the honourable chief justice of this court has been pleased to order to place the said judicial officer under suspension and repatriate [him] to his parent department i.e. Lahore High Court, Lahore with immediate effect, for disciplinary proceedings to be conducted in accordance with law.” The judge was also summoned to the IHC and informed about the orders.