–CJP says meetings of accountability judge with PML-N reps are ‘unusual and extraordinary’
–Says it won’t be called suo motu notice if court takes it in response to people’s wishes
–Petitioners ask top court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against PML-N, calls leaked video attempt to ‘target judiciary’
ISLAMABAD: Seeking government assistance over recently surfaced video of an accountability court judge, Arshad Malik, who has been accused of awarding sentence to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Al-Aziza corruption reference under duress, the top court on Tuesday observed it will examine all aspects of the case profoundly.
As many as three pleas have been filed before the Supreme Court seeking court directives for an inquiry into the video scandal.
The petitioners include Ishtiaq Mirza, Sohail Akhtar and Tariq Hassan who made Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif and former president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Arshad Malik and the federal government as respondents.
After the brief hearing of arguments of counsels for three identical petitioners on Tuesday, a three-member bench led by the Chief Justice Sardar Asif Saeed Khan Khosa sought the assistance of Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan.
Appearing on behalf of his Ishtiaq Mirza, advocate Munir Sadiq Chaudhry termed the controversial video released by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz an attempt to ‘target the judiciary’.
Chaudhry urged the court to issue directives for inquiry to determine the truth in the matter seeking necessary directives for ensuring the independence of the judiciary, including proceedings for the contempt of court against those found guilty.
The counsel claimed that political parties have also requested the top court to take a suo motu notice over the video controversy to which the CJP responded it was the discretion of the court to decide which matter should be taken under suo motu for adjudication.
He observed if the court took notice in response to people wishes then it won’t be called a suo motu notice.
However, the chief justice remarked the controversy must be examined, observing that meetings of the accountability court judge Arshad Malik were “unusual and extraordinary”, saying the issue in hand is about the integrity of the judiciary.
Chief Justice Khosa also observed the court will have to look into the fact whether adjudication of the current matter in the top court will have an impact on the proceedings of the same matter, pending before Islamabad High Court.
It may be noted that the IHC will take up Nawaz Sharif’s plea against Al-Azizia verdict in September.
Ikram Chaudhry, the counsel for Sohail Akhtar urged the court to issue directives for formation of a commission to inquire into matter saying judiciary role is being portrayed controversial in wake of the leaked video of accountability judge. To which Chief Justice Khosa remarked the court will also have to examine the contempt of court proceedings in the current matter.
Appearing before the bench in his personal capacity another petitioner, advocate of the apex court Tariq Asad requested the bench to form an inquiry commission of a retired judge of the Supreme Court.
To which Chief Justice Khosa said the current matter is about the misconduct of judge Arshad Malik whereas the court would have to examine the applicability of contempt of court in addition to examining the authenticity of the controversial video.
On the occasion, a member of the bench Justice Umar Ata Bandial identified three key issues that need to be taken into consideration while deciding the matter: the sanctity of the institution, the correctness of the judgment, and any misconduct by the judge under scrutiny.
Justice Bandial was of the view that there is a competent court to decide on the correctness of judgment while laws were there to initiate misconduct proceeding against the judge if required. Justice Bandial remarked sanctity of the institution should be protected.
Later, the top court adjourned hearing of the case till July 23.