–CJP says apex court’s observations won’t impact IHC proceedings in case
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday disposed of a petition filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking a review of an August 23 verdict by the top court regarding a video scandal involving former accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik.
The top court had on August 23 declared that a video purportedly showing former accountability court judge Arshad Malik making compromising statements about a criminal case was not admissible as evidence until the authenticity of the video was established.
In its August 23 ruling, the top court had directed the petitioner, Ishtiaq Ahmed, to refer to the Islamabad High Court with his plea.
A three-member bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, heard arguments on Tuesday.
In his remarks during the hearing, Justice Khosa sought to dispel the impression that the order regarding the video scandal would have any bearing on the authority of the Islamabad High Court to deliver a verdict in the ongoing case. “The high court is independent in making decisions,’ Justice Khosa said.
Addressing the counsel for Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Haris, in the SC during the hearing, Justice Khosa said that the arguments made in the review petition had already been admitted by the court in an earlier verdict, and admonished Haris for not reading that ruling.
In its August 23 verdict, the SC had observed that the video involving former judge Arshad Malik could only be submitted as evidence in court by former PM Nawaz if the authenticity of it was established beyond doubt in front of the Islamabad High Court.
The IHC is currently hearing an appeal filed by the former premier into his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference. The video being shared by the Sharif family in court argues that former judge Arshad Malik was pressured into giving a verdict against Nawaz in the Al Aziziya reference.
On July 6, Maryam opened a Pandora’s box with a startling claim that judge Malik “confessed” he had been “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict her father in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference. A video containing the judge’s alleged confession during his conversation with a ‘sympathiser’ of the PML-N, Nasir Butt, was screened during a hurriedly called presser at the party’s provincial headquarters in Model Town.
The next day, in a press release, the judge had denied being under any pressure but admitted that Nasir Butt was an acquaintance. In July, the IHC removed judge Malik from his post.
It merits a mention here that the Aug 23 court order also mentioned that the video clip along with its transcripts had never been duly proved in accordance with the law, the order had said.
A miscellaneous petition will be heard in the IHC on December 18 seeking a forensic test of the audio/video in the scandal. The same day Nawaz’s appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia corruption reference and National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal against the acquittal of Nawaz in the Flagship Investment reference will be heard.
Judge Malik, on Dec 4 last year, had handed ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif seven years in jail in the Al Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference. He, however, acquitted him in a second reference related to Flagship Investments.