Judge video scandal: SC says its observations will not influence high court proceedings

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it clear that its earlier observations — in which it held that the video clip concerning former accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik will only benefit Nawaz Sharif if its genuineness is established — will not influence high court proceedings.

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The court made this statement while hearing the former prime minister’s review petition against the observations made by the apex court in its August 23 verdict.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Syed Mansoor Shah, wrapped up the review petition filed by senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed on behalf of Nawaz.

The review petition pleaded that the verdict of the apex court was per incuriam (through lack of care) since it was passed without jurisdiction and therefore merited to be reviewed.

During the hearings of the review petition today, the court said its observations will not influence proceedings in the high court. Chief Justice Khosa said the high court was independent in making its decisions, adding that they had written this before and would do so again.

On August 23, the apex wrapped up a set of petitions on a video leak scandal involving judge Malik. The top court had held that the video clip of Arshad Malik would only benefit the former premier if it was properly produced before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a pending appeal against his conviction.

The video clip along with its transcripts, which was shown by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz in her media interaction in Lahore, had never been duly proved in accordance with the law, the order had said.

In his review petition, filed in October, Nawaz had contended that the audio or video recording was admissible under Article 164 of the Qanun-i-Shahadat Order (QSO), 1984. Additionally, the law did not impose any conditions that only evidence obtained through modern devices would be admissible which were recorded by persons whose part of routine duties was to record audio or video.

The petition highlighted that the appeal against the conviction of Nawaz under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, was pending before the IHC. Therefore, it added, the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction under any provision of the NAO or even otherwise to pre-empt the decision with respect to any manner that fell within the jurisdiction of the high court concerned in its appellate jurisdiction.

In an affidavit submitted to the IHC, Malik denied the contents of the video — which allegedly showed him admitting to a lack of evidence against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — and termed them edited, fabricated, and aimed to defame him.

The court had issued notices to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raja Zafarul Haq, and others.

On a petition submitted by a citizen named Ishtiaq Ahmed, the top court took up the case. Ahmed appealed to the apex court for an independent judicial inquiry of the video scandal.

On July 12, judge Arshad Malik was relieved from his post by the federal government for his alleged involvement in the controversial video scandal.

Malik, in a letter written for IHC, claimed that Hussain Nawaz offered him a bribe, adding, “Nasir Janjua came to meet me and claimed that he had the cash equivalent of Rs 100 million in Euros for me immediately available out of which the Euro equivalent of Rs 20 million was laying in his car parked outside.”

He added, “I was told that Mian Sahib is willing to pay whatever I demand on acquitting him in both references. However, I declined the bribe offered to me while committing remains sticking to merits.”

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