ISLAMABAD: The controversy revolving around the leaked video tape of accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik refused to die down as a petition requesting a thorough probe for determining the truth landed in the Supreme Court on Thursday while the judge called on Islamabad High Court acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq for the second time in a week.
“In these circumstances and surrounding realities, it is most respectfully prayed that an inquiry may be ordered to be conducted so as to determine the truth,” argued the petition moved by Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza through Advocate Chaudhry Munir Sadiq.
Ishtiaq Mirza, who himself is a lawyer as well as a social worker, also requested the apex court to issue necessary orders for securing independence, respect, prestige and integrity of the judiciary. The Supreme Court should also consider initiating contempt proceedings against those found guilty of contempt, he added.
Arshad Malik again meets IHC acting chief justice; law minister refuses to initiate proceedings against accountability judge
Legal observers believe that during his meeting with the IHC acting chief justice, judge Malik stood by the contents of his press release he issued on Sunday in response to Maryam Nawaz’s press conference where the video tape was shown.
On July 9, Justice Aamer Farooq had also called on Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa and reportedly apprised the latter of the situation and response of the accountability judge to the controversy.
But with the release of subsequent videos of the accountability judge by Maryam, the IHC acting chief justice again met judge Malik on Thursday.
On the other hand, the IHC administration is waiting for a response of the law ministry to the matter since the ministry had last year appointed Arshad Malik as judge of the Accountability Court II of Islamabad for a period of three years.
However, Minister for Law Dr Farogh Nasim told reporters that his ministry would not initiate any proceedings against the accountability judge in connection with the leaked videos. “Under Article 203 of the Constitution, it is the high court which superintends the subordinate courts,” the minister explained, adding that special courts, including the accountability court, fell within the territorial jurisdiction of the IHC and, therefore, it was IHC chief justice who could any take action in this regard.
Judge Arshad Malik become the focus of the controversy when Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) vice president Maryam claimed on Saturday that the judge had confessed that he had been pressurised and blackmailed to convict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia corruption reference.
During the press conference, the video containing the judge’s confession with a ‘sympathiser’ of the PML-N was also screened at the party’s provincial headquarters in Model Town, Lahore.
In response, Judge Malik issued a press statement denying the allegations of being blackmailed. Dubbing the alleged video clip fabricated, the judge demanded legal action against those behind the move. He said the video was not only contrary to the facts but also an attempt to hatch a conspiracy to present conversations made on different occasions by twisting them out of context.
In his petition, Ishtiaq Mirza argued that being a social worker he was approaching the apex court pro bono because he believed that courts were the custodian and guardian of the fundamental rights of every single individual. “Thus it is necessary to jealously guard the independence of the judiciary,” he contended, adding that it was the right of the petitioner to have free and independent judiciary to protect the fundamental rights of all the people living in Pakistan, including their rights to life, liberty and property.
These events, the petition contended, had created an impression that the judiciary in the country was not working independently, rather it was blackmailed and forced to act under certain dictates.
“Though the accountability judge has categorically denied the allegations levelled against him through a press release, the state institutions have taken no step to unearth the truth,” the petition regretted, adding that the allegations levelled at the press conference by Maryam Nawaz were very serious in nature and if not probed in time and brought to a logical end, the same had the potential to shake the confidence of the masses in the judiciary.
Similarly, the petition contended, the facts narrated by the accountability court judge in his press statement regarding the offering of bribe and threats of serious consequences also need a thorough probe.
Moreover, it said, the allegations levelled Maryam Nawaz, if found to be untrue, amounted to committing a grave contempt, adding that it was in the interest of the judiciary to direct the federal government to take appropriate measures for ensuring the independence of judiciary.
The petition named the federal government, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raja Zafarul Haq, Nasir Butt and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority as respondents.
Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019