ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court commences on Tuesday (today) hearing on the video leak controversy involving accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik, two more petitions seeking a thorough probe to unearth facts have been filed.
The fresh petitions have been filed by Advocate Sohail Akhtar through his counsel Mohammad Ikram Chaudhry and Advocate Tariq Asad who will personally plead his case.
At the same time, the Supreme Court has beefed up security on its premises for Tuesday’s hearing. A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and consisting of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umara Ata Bandial will take up the petition of a lawyer, Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza, filed through his counsel Chaudhry Munir Sadiq.
Judge Arshad Malik had already been removed by the Islamabad High Court on July 12 over the video leak scandal following weeklong consultations, including with the Supreme Court.
In a damning recommendation, the IHC suggested immediate removal or relieving of the judge from his position and then repatriation to his parent institution — the Lahore High Court — with immediate effect.
Two more petitions seeking thorough probe to unearth facts land in apex court
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court office explained that in view of the limited seating capacity in the Courtroom No 1, it has decided that the entry into the courtroom will be regulated through special security passes which will be issued by the SP (security) Supreme Court. Only the petitioners or respondents whose cases were fixed will be allowed to enter the court premises. However, advocates and journalists who regularly come for the proceedings will be exempted from passes.
The general public who want to witness the proceedings of the case can contact the SP for security passes as the entry into the court building will be allowed after checking/frisking and searching of bags/purses, etc. No cellular phone is allowed inside the courtroom, said an announcement issued by the apex court office.
Ishtiaq Mirza, who is also a social worker, filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, pleading that the apex court should issue necessary orders for securing independence, respect, prestige and integrity of the judiciary.
The petition contended that it was necessary to zealously guard the independence of the judiciary, since it was the right of the petitioner to have free and independent judiciary to protect fundamental rights of all people, 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.
Likewise, petitioner Sohail Akhtar requested the apex court to order the department concerned to initiate a probe by procuring the video clips and news items from the print media for a forensic inspection done from an organisation of international repute.
The petition pleaded that after a thorough investigation further directives be issued for the relevant authorities to convict or penalise the ones found responsible for creating such an unrest in the country’s judicial system. It requested the apex court to declare that the acts of respondents were flagrant disregard of the Constitution as well as cyber laws, National Accountability Ordinance and contempt laws with a well thought out plan and conspiracy to destroy the judicial system for the benefit of privileged few, including the respondents, and to prejudice the judgements of the courts.
The petition said the apex court should also issue a directive for the federal government, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, Nawa-e-Waqt and the accountability court judge to furnish before the court necessary material regarding the July 6 press conference of Maryam Nawaz who had disclosed the video clips involving Arshad Malik.
Similarly, petitioner Advocate Tariq Asad requested the apex court to order a judicial commission under a Supreme Court or high court judge to probe the matter comprehensively so that those responsible for creating such a situation could be dealt with in accordance with the law.
The petition also sought a directive for the Lahore High Court to initiate proceedings against the accountability court judge under the Punjab Civil Service (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 1999. The apex court should also restrain all other institutions from interfering in the administration of justice for the independence of the judiciary.
Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2019