ISLAMABAD: The controversy surrounding the purported video confession of an accountability judge deepened on Tuesday after Islamabad High Court’s acting chief justice Amir Farooq met Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa.
While their 40-minute meeting that took place in the Supreme Court building seemed normal, legal observers attached significance to it against the backdrop of the video scandal involving Judge Arshad Malik who had met Justice Farooq and reportedly briefed him on the issue just a day ago.
Legal observers were of the opinion that the latest video scandal must have been the focus of discussion between the top judicial functionaries as lawyers’ representatives have been demanding a judicial probe into the matter.
The video purportedly containing the judge’s confession before a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz ‘sympathiser’ that he had been blackmailed into convicting former premier Nawaz Sharif was screened during a press conference by PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz on Saturday.
PBC vice chairman says high court can take action against accountability judge
Terming the video fabricated, Judge Malik himself issued a press statement denying the allegations of being pressurised and blackmailed. The judge also demanded legal action against those behind the move, explaining the video was not only contrary to the facts but also an attempt to hatch a conspiracy against him to present conversations made on different occasions by twisting them out of context.
His response and counter-allegations through a press statement drew criticism from the legal fraternity. Judge Malik had committed misconduct, said Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah.
The judge in his statement admitted his long association with one Nasir Butt who the government claimed had a criminal history.
According to the PBC vice chairman, the IHC can take administrative action against the accountability judge under the relevant disciplinary and efficiency rules especially after the judge had admitted that he had long association with the individual.
Asked whether the PBC would request the CJP for suo motu action against the accountability court judge or move a petition in this regard, the vice chairman said a final decision in this regard would be taken by their general body meeting.
During his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Sardar Shahmim had reportedly observed that if voice experts confirmed Judge Malik’s voice in the video, strict action could be taken against him.
However, the PBC vice chairman said in his personal opinion there was no need to show any haste in this regard as the video can be used as evidence by the former premier or his daughter Maryam Nawaz in the pending appeals against their conviction in the Al-Azizia reference. The accountability court had handed down seven-year imprisonment to the former premier in the Al-Azizia reference.
Legal observers said the ex-PM still had the opportunity to get some relief if he managed to prove that the conviction awarded to him by the accountability court was wrong.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2019