ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday suspended former accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik over the video leak controversy and repatriated him to his parent department — the Lahore High Court.

A notification issued by the acting registrar of the IHC says that a press release [issued by judge Malik] on July 7 and his affidavit of July 11 “prima facie constitute acts of misconduct and violation of code of conduct which warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him. Therefore, the Honourable Chief Justice of this court has been pleased to order to place the judicial officer under suspension and repatriate to his parent department i.e. Lahore High Court (LHC) with immediate effect, for disciplinary proceeding to be conducted in accordance with law”.

The Supreme Court, while hearing petitions related to the video leak on Tuesday, had termed the conduct of judge Malik “shameful” and asked why the law ministry had not transferred him back to the LHC. The apex court had observed that it appeared that the law ministry was giving refuge to the controversial judge.

Federal Law Minister Dr Farogh Nasim, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, had clarified that the order to repatriate judge Malik was issued by acting chief justice of the IHC Aamir Farooq and in the light of the Supreme Court’s judgement in Al-Jihad Trust case, such a directive was binding on the ministry when it was issued by a permanent chief justice.

Action taken after SC expressed concern over delay in proceedings against Arshad Malik

Mr Nasim had further said that since IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had been on leave and now had resumed charge of his office, the law ministry was awaiting an order to be issued by him.

Subsequently, the IHC administration summoned judge Malik on Thursday morning and he remained there till 3pm until the IHC acting registrar issued the order of his suspension and repatriation to the LHC.

While the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has accused judge Malik of convicting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference under duress, the judge has claimed that he had been blackmailed by PML-N supporters.

After PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz released video clips of Mr Malik at a press conference, acting Chief Justice of the IHC Aamer Farooq summoned the accountability judge twice and then directed him to submit an affidavit to explain his position.

Judge Malik in his affidavit had said that he had been blackmailed by PML-N supporters because of an “immoral video” and admitted that he had met Mr Sharif at his Jati Umra residence and Hussain Nawaz in Saudi Arabia.

Subsequently, Justice Farooq had ordered immediate removal of Mr Malik and the IHC registrar had written to the law ministry that “he [judge] may be removed/relieved from his duties by the competent authority forthwith so that he can be repatriated to his parent department i.e. Lahore High Court, Lahore”.

After the video leak Judge Malik lodged a complaint with the Federal Investigation Agency which arrested an accused namely Mian Tariq Mehmood on a charge of recording an “immoral video” of the judge.

A three-member Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, is expected to announce the judgement on a set of petitions filed against the backdrop of the video leak scandal.

The petitions filed by Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza, Sohail Akhtar and Tariq Asad seek a directive from the apex court for the constitution of a probe committee or a judicial commission.

At the last hearing on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had reserved its ruling, saying that it would decide about the fate of the petitions in two to three days after the assurance extended by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor that the judge Malik would be repatriated to the LHC.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2019