The Islamabad High Court on Thursday repatriated former accountability court judge Arshad Malik, who is at the centre of a video leak scandal that grabbed headlines last month, to his parent department, the Lahore High Court, for the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.
The IHC on July 12 had removed Judge Malik from his post amid a controversy surrounding a leaked videotape showing his purported confession that he had been “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia corruption reference.
The judge had denied the allegations, saying there was no pressure on him to convict Sharif and that the videos shown by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz of his alleged confession at a press conference were "fake and based on lies".
A notification issued by the IHC today stated that the disclosures and admissions made by Judge Malik in his press release issued on July 07 — a day after Maryam's presser — and in an affidavit he submitted to the IHC on July 11 to deny the allegations against him, prima facie "constitute acts of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct, which warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him".
Due to the above reasons, the notification further said, the IHC chief justice has issued orders to place Judge Malik under suspension and repatriate him to the LHC with immediate effect, "for disciplinary proceedings to be conducted in accordance with law".
The IHC notification comes two days after Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa wondered why the federal government had not repatriated Judge Malik to the LHC for initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.
“Is the federal government protecting the judge by keeping his services with them?” the chief justice wondered, adding that the situation was dangerous because a judge became susceptible or vulnerable to blackmailing or being influenced, be it by the government or any individual, when he or she had a skeleton in the closet.
In response, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor had assured the bench that the judge would be repatriated.
During the hearing of a case regarding the matter, Justice Khosa regretted that the conduct of Judge Malik had caused all honest, hard-working and dedicated judges to "bow their heads in shame".
The bench had taken up three identical petitions that sought a directive from the apex court for the constitution of a probe committee or a judicial commission. The SC will announce its reserved verdict on the three petitions at 9:30am on Friday (tomorrow).
With additional reporting by Haseeb Bhatti in Islamabad.