- Judge Malik’s sacking does not mean relief for Mian Nawaz Sharif
The sacking of Judge Arshad Malik by the Lahore High Court’s administrative committee was perhaps an inevitability, for the original accusation against him was that he had given a verdict against ousted Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif while sitting as an accountability judge, out of pressure from certain institutions which had in their possession a compromising video, and his defence, that he had met both Mian Nawaz and his son during the pendency of the case, both reflected improper conduct on his part. He can go into departmental appeal, which will be heard by the committee, and after that he can appeal to the Punjab Subordinate Judiciary Services Tribunal (which consists of three LHC judge). If still unsatisfied, he can then go to the Supreme Court. Until he has exhausted these avenues of appeal, his decision in Mian Nawaz Sharif’s reference stands. Even afterwards, Judge Malik’s dismissal does not mean acquittal, constituting nothing more than grounds for a retrial. It is for the higher judiciary to consider whether a fresh trial will result in any further improper pressure.
Indeed, it concerns all, what the case means. The superior judiciary as a whole, not just the high courts’ administrative committees or the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, to concert measures to prevent any person or organization from being able to exert pressure on subordinate judges. We have not reached a point where such interventions are dismissed out of hand by all right-thinking persons, because the conduct of judges is so aboveboard. Also, the institutions alleged to have blackmailed Judge Malik should make sure that they stop using such ham-handed methods, because the truth will come out eventually, whether they like it or not, and in ways which may not suit their convenience. The unseating of a Prime Minister may have given some a lift, but it actually almost derailed democracy.
Mian Nawaz’s retrial now seems inevitable. If any institutions tried to influence the result of the first trial, it would be counter-intuitive to expect them to allow him to be acquitted so easily. It will then be up to the superior judiciary to ensure the integrity of that trial, something that was not done the first time around.