ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has questioned the silence of the accountability court judge for being blackmailed because of his objectionable video for about 19 years.
An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq granted post-arrest bail to accused Tariq Mehmood being tried for making the said video to blackmail accountability judge Arshad Malik who convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference.
“There is also no plausible explanation why the complainant judge had voluntarily met a person [Nawaz Sharif] convicted by the court presided by him and his son [Hussain Nawaz] in another country,” the court observed.
As per the written order of the court, “the admitted facts [of the case] are that Mohammad Arshad Malik, District and Sessions Judge, in his complaint has not disputed the genuineness of the recorded video showing him in a compromising position. This fact has also been affirmed by the Investigating Officer.”
IHC questions silence of accountability court judge for almost 19 years
Moreover, the court observed that “the complaint was made on July 15, 2019 regarding the making of the video between 2000 and 2003 i.e. almost nineteen years ago. We had heard the case on May 14, 2020, and had adjourned the matter in order to enable the Investigating Officer to satisfy us that there was sufficient incriminating material regarding involvement of the petitioner in offences mentioned in the FIR. Despite repeatedly asking the Investigating Officer to show us incriminating material, he failed to do so”.
It was not the case of the complainant judge that he had handed down the conviction pursuant to being influenced. There is also nothing on record why the complainant judge remained silent for almost 19 years, particularly when attempts were allegedly made to influence him in a pending case, the court observed.
Accused Tariq Mahmood has sought post-arrest bail in the criminal case registered under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
According to the facts of the FIR, an officer of the rank of joint secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, sent a letter, dated July 15, 2019, to the director general, Federal Investigation Agency, along with a written complaint of Arshad Malik, District and Sessions Judge. The latter had asserted that during his posting at Multan between 2000 and 2003, petitioner Mehmood had secretly filmed him in a compromising position after being intoxicated. He had alleged that on the basis of the said video attempts were made by persons named in the FIR to influence him in a case.
Judge Malik also admitted in his complaint that he had met Nawaz Sharif, who had been convicted by his court, as well as his son Hussain Nawaz.
However, he did not state that he had handed down conviction pursuant to the alleged attempts to influence him, the IHC noted.
The petitioner has contended that the latter has been falsely involved in the instant case; story as narrated in the FIR is false, frivolous and vexatious; the petitioner has been made a scapegoat in the instant case; he is also entitled to the concession of post-arrest bail on medical grounds; the co-accused of the petitioner have already been on bail and keeping in view the rule of consistency, the petitioner is also entitled to the same relief.
Deputy Attorney General Syed Mohammad Tayyab, Ijaz Ahmed Sheikh and M. Azmat Khan, assistant directors of the FIA, on the other hand, contended that recovery has been effected from the petitioner; the petitioner has been specifically nominated in the FIR; the petitioner had deliberately uploaded personal and objectionable pictures of the complainant; the said act of the petitioner has destroyed the honour and modesty of the complainant not only in family but also in the community and department.
The bench, however, was of the view that “Investigating Officer could not show any incriminating material to justify the continued incarceration of the petitioner nor that the offences were attracted. This is definitely a case requiring further probe. The petitioner was arrested on July 16, 2019 and investigations against him have been completed and further incarceration of the latter will not serve any useful purpose”.
Moreover, the court noted, “nothing has been placed on record to indicate that the petitioner may abscond or tamper with the prosecution evidence, if he is released on bail”.
“This court is, therefore, of the opinion that the petitioner is entitled to be released by extending the concession of bail.
“This petition is allowed and the petitioner is admitted to bail, subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs100,000 with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the learned trial court,” the IHC ruled.
The controversy had surfaced when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz during a press conference released a secret video of judge Arshad Malik in which he ‘confessed’ to convicting Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference under duress because he was blackmailed due to the video.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2020