–Justice Arshad Malik alleges he was threatened, offered bribes by PML-N leadership, representatives
–Maryam Nawaz asks courts to declare Al-Azizia verdict void and release her father
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday decided to remove accountability judge, Justice Arshad Malik, from his post over the matter of scandalous videotapes.
The directives were issued by IHC Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq in a letter to the registrar’s office in which asked the latter to inform that Law Ministry that the judge has been relieved of his post and repatriated to his parent department, the Lahore High Court (LHC).
As per Section 5A of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), the Law Ministry, with the consent of the chief justice of a high court, appoints judges for special courts, including accountability courts. Apparently, the decision to remove Justice Malik has also been made in light of the aforementioned section.
A day earlier, Justice Malik called on Justice Amir Farooq for the second time after an alleged videotape was released by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz on June 6 wherein the judge could be heard saying that the decision against Nawaz was “forced”.
The leaked video opened a Pandora’s box as Maryam claimed that the judge had been “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict her father in the case. However, in a press statement the following day, the judge refuted the accusation and dubbed the video as a “conspiracy hatched to affect his credibility”.
Meanwhile, Justice Malik, in an affidavit submitted to the IHC CJ, made shocking claims pertaining to the corruption references against Nawaz.
He claimed that PML-N representatives Nasir Janjua and Mahar Jilani had offered him hefty bribes in exchange for a favourable verdict in the corruption references and had threatened him with dire consequences if he failed to comply.
“Nasir Janjua claimed that he had the cash of equivalent of Rs100 million in Euros for me immediately available out of which the Euro equivalent of Rs20 million was laying in his car parked outside,” he said, adding that he denied the bribe while remaining committed to giving the verdict on merit.
He said that the bribe was soon followed by a threat of physical harm from Nasir Butt, who had told him that “Mian Nawaz Sharif had helped him avoid punishment for 4-5 murders he had committed and he was willing to go to any extend to help Mian Sahib in the trials he was facing”.
He said that later in 2019, he met with Khurram Yousaf and Nasir Butt, who told him about the existence of a video clip of him in a compromising position which was allegedly taken during the time he was working in Multan. The judge said that he denied the authenticity of any such video.
Justice Malik said that he was again approached by Nasir Jutt who asked him to “record an admission of guilt for Nawaz’s pleasure” which would be deleted after the former premier has heard it. He said that he complied because of the blackmailing he was facing. The former premier, he added, was not satisfied with the audio and asked to meet the judge himself.
He said that he met the former premier at his Jati Umra residence on April 6, 2019, where he told Nawaz that the decision was on merit. “Nawaz was obviously displeased by my response,” he added.
He also said that later Nasir Butt approached him and said that Nawaz’s lawyers had drafted an appeal and wanted him to have a look at it. The judge claimed that he complied again because of the blackmailing he was facing and that this meeting was secretly videotaped and taken out of context and later used by Maryam.
He further claimed that while he was in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah with his family, he was again approached by Nasir Butt who asked him to accompany him as Hussain Nawaz, the son of former premier, wanted to see him. He said that Hussain told him that he would be given “Rs500 million and would be relocated in UK, Canada or any other country with jobs for my children and a profitable business” if he resigned and admitted to “guilt of convicting Nawaz under pressure”.
He said that it was only after he refused to accept the lucrative bribes and give in to threats, the PML-N VP held the controversial presser where she released the “manipulated” videotapes, wherein, she had claimed, the judge had confessed to giving the verdict under pressure.
MARYAM WANTS AL-AZIZIA VERDICT EXPUNGED:
In a follow-up to the court order, Maryam demanded that the verdict against her father be declared void as it was given under “duress”.
It is worth mentioning here that on December 4, 2018, Justice Malik had sentenced the three-time premier to seven years in jail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference while acquitting him in the Flagship Investments reference as “there was no case against Nawaz” in the said reference.
In a series of tweets, the PML-N VP said that “the matter was not about the removal of a judge instead it was about suspending the verdict that the judge [Malik] had issued”.
Maryam said that the removal of the judge clearly means that the “honourable judiciary has accepted the truth”. “If this is the case, how can a verdict by this judge be maintained,” she asked.
Maryam also requested the judiciary to declare the verdict void and to issue directives for her father’s release “without any delays”.