ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complete its investigation of the video leaks controversy involving accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik within three weeks, saying it wants to determine the truth of all allegations against the judge before proceeding in the matter.
A three-member bench, presided by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umar Ata Bandial, gave the directions after resuming hearing of three identical petitions on the video scandal involving judge Malik, all seeking a directive from the top court for the formation of an inquiry committee or a judicial commission. Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza, Sohail Akhtar, and Tariq Asad have filed the three petitions.
Attorney General Anwar Mansoor, who was assisting the apex court in deciding the appropriate course of action, opposed the petitions and the creation of a judicial commission to investigate the matter, saying there was no need for its formation because a separate forum exists to deal with such issues.
But the chief justice affirmed that the SC would examine all evidence to prevent any loss being incurred by anyone. The court was considering different options — the last of which would be setting up a judicial commission — but would take a decision after perusing the inquiry report, CJP said.
Realising that some people might not want the top court to rush through the matter, Justice Khosa said, “we will not take a leap in the dark.” CJP observed that the judicial commission, if formed, can only give its opinion on the matter and not pass any judgment.
CJP said, “only the high court can give relief to Nawaz Sharif,” adding that the apex court can order a re-trial of the Al-Azizia reference and even decide the matter itself after examining the evidence.
He lamented at the fact that despite the serious allegations exchanged between different sides in the matter, no party had approached the relevant high court with an application.
The chief justice wondered whether the apex court should interfere in the matter at all. “Would the intervention have any benefit or will it only generate headlines?” he asked.
One of the questions being scrutinised by the top court, according to Justice Khosa, was whether it was appropriate for judge Malik to visit Nawaz’s residence after sentencing him.
SC had to ascertain the truth of allegations levelled by both sides while maintaining the sanctity of the court, remarked Justice Bandial.
The bench subsequently directed the FIA to complete its investigation in the matter within three weeks. The attorney general was asked by the court to ensure the inquiry is completed in a timely manner.
The hearing of the petitions was adjourned for three weeks.
Earlier 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.”