ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday reserved verdict on three identical petitions on the video scandal involving former accountability judge Arshad Malik, all seeking a directive from the top court for the constitution of an inquiry committee or a judicial commission.
During the hearing, the chief justice said, “Thousands of judges in the country who are honest, their heads have been bowed with shame due to the conduct of the said judge.”
The judge was supposed to be moved to the Lahore High Court after his removal, but he has not been repatriated yet, which was also inquired by the top judge. He wondered why the federal government was protecting him and Judge Malik was not being repatriated to the high court so that disciplinary proceedings could be initiated against him.
Discussing the interim report submitted by the FIA director general earlier, the chief justice said that it was regarding two videos — one through which the judge was blackmailed and the other which was aired at a press conference held by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) last month in Lahore.
The attorney general said that judge Malik had been posted to the accountability court on March 13, 2018. The chief justice asked if the individual who had appointed judge Malik had come forward, to which the attorney general responded that he had not.
Chief Justice Khosa added that as per the interim report, Nasir Janjua, a suspect in the video leak case, had said he endorsed the appointment of the judge.
“This means that after the Panama Papers verdict, the government at the time had appointed judge Arshad Malik,” the chief justice said.
Judge Malik, who convicted ousted premier Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia case last year, has been accused by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and other party leaders of delivering the verdict “under pressure”. She also aired his purported video during a live presser to corroborate her point.
“Why the video has not been forensic examined?” questioned the CJP. He asked the attorney general Pakistan whether anyone moved an application in the high court to get relief on the basis of the video. The AGP replied in negative.
During the FIA probe so far, the findings that were revealed were as follows:
“The subject video of complainant Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik was made by the accused Mian Tariq Mehmood r/o Multan from 2000 to 2003, when the former was posted as additional district and sessions judge, Multan.”
“As per Affidavit dated 11-07-2019 of Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik complainant, he was contacted by two acquaintances namely Maher Ghulam Jilani and Mian Nasir Janjua. During the meeting, accused Mian Nasir Janjua claimed that he was appointed as the judge on his specific and personal recommendation to an influential person in the then PML-N government,” said the FIA report.
“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Reference No 18/2017 (Flagship Reference) and Reference No 19/2017 (HME Reference) were transferred for trial to accountability court No. II, Islamabad in August 2018 after five months of [the] appointment of the complainant judge. As per Affidavit dated 11-07-2019 of the complainant judge, at a social sitting attended by both accused Nasir Janjua and Maher Ghulam Jilani, the accused Nasir Janjua took him aside and implored him to give [a] verdict of acquittal in both the said references. Besides, judge’s deposed that he was again approached by accused Nasir Janjua and Maher Ghulam Jilani who offered him Euros equivalent to Rs100 million and immediately Euros equivalent to Rs20 million were available in their vehicle outside. However, [the] offer of the bribe was made prior to the decision of the references.”
It added, “Reference 18 and 19 of 2017 of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif ex-prime minister were decided on 24-12-2018.”
“As per affidavit of the complainant judge, the accused Nasir Butt met him and threatened him regarding [the] revelation of subject video by accused Nasir Janjua. Whereas at that time the complainant judge showed his ignorance about such video and accused Nasir Mehmood Butt told him that he will be shown the same in a couple of days. After [a] couple of days, accused Mian Tariq Mehmood visited the house of complainant Judge Malik and showed him the subject video,” said the report.
The report said, “During [the] confrontation between the complainant Judge Malik and accused Nasir Janjua, when the complainant was asked whether accused Nasir Janjua ever personally showed the subject video to him, the complainant Judge Malik replied that he did not. However, the complainant maintained the version and accusations in his affidavit and complaint.”
“As per reply of Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to the FIA questionnaire, he claimed ignorance stating that Maryam Nawaz can give clarifications regarding the video at the judge’s residence made by accused Nasir Mehmood Butt. Other participants namely Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Attaullah Tarrar of questioned press conference dated 06-07-2019 adopted a similar stance.
“Significantly, Maryam, who led the press conference of the PML-N senior leadership and gave a detailed narrative and commentary on the audio/video attributed to the complainant and played at the press conference has attempted to distance and disassociate herself from the details and specifics of the acquisition, origins, source, recording, dissemination, release and timing of the said audio/video (played on her instructions at the press conference with subtitles) and also the specifics of the individual who actually undertook and conducted the recording of the said audio/video as played at the press conference and, in her reply, has sought to place the entire responsibility and burden in respect of aforementioned matters upon accused Nasir Mehmood Butt. As regards the subject video, again, Maryam now claims not to have ever obtained or seen the same and has sought to completely disassociate herself from the subject video, although, according to the transcript received from PEMRA, she spoke at length of the subject video in the following terms at the press conference of 6-7-2019 which contradicts her later stance,” said the FIA report.