- The need to supervise the lower judiciary
The Supreme Court has admonished former accountability court judge Arshad Malik for misconduct. It has also held that the video purportedly of his statement is of no legal use to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif unless verified by the Islamabad High Court. A day earlier, the IHC had ordered repatriation of former judge Arshad Malik to Lahore High Court for disciplinary proceedings
Irrespective of the genuineness or otherwise of the video, the former judge’s press release and affidavit raise serious questions about his integrity. The apex court has rightly pointed out that his admitted conduct was shocking, besides being abhorrent and offensive to the image of a Judge. One had expected therefore that the Supreme Court would also comment on the judgment delivered by a man made vulnerable to blackmail on account of a shady past and skeletons in the cupboard. That the Law Ministry had not transferred him back to the LHC suggests that it was keen to shield him from disciplinary action. Was it a reward for some service rendered by the former judge during Nawaz Sharif’s trial?
It is for the PML-N to prove before the IHC that the video is genuine. Many think the party leadership should have taken the video straight to the court as a smoking gun that called into question the honesty of the man who authored the Al-Azizia judgment. It was suggested by some that the PML-N in fact wanted to politicise the case. It is time the party leadership establishes the veracity of the purported evidence. This may not be easy keeping in view the Supreme Court’s observations on the matter. As the apex court’s verdict puts it, the standard of proof required in a criminal case is beyond reasonable doubt, and any realistic doubt about an audio tape or video not being genuine may destroy its credibility and reliability.
There is a common saying that it is better to hire a judge rather than a counsel. This underscores the perception of widespread corruption in the lower echelons of the judiciary. It would therefore be deceiving oneself to believe that Arshad Malik’s was an exceptional case. There is a dire need on the part of the Supreme Court to cleanse the Augean stables of the lower judiciary.