ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Tuesday summoned attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) to assist the court regarding three petitions seeking probe into the video leak controversy involving accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprised Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umar Ata Bandial conducted hearing in the petitions of advocate Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza, advocate Sohail Akhtar and advocate Tariq Asad and directed the attorney general to submit his recommendations in this regard.

During the hearing, PML-N leader Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and PkMAP leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai were also present.

The petitioners demanded of the Supreme Court to constitute an inquiry commission comprising judge of Supreme Court to probe the veracity of allegations levelled by PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz in a press conference in Lahore, initiate contempt of court proceedings against PML-N leaders for maligning the judiciary and conduct forensic audit of video showing Arshad Malik meetings with notorious persons.

After hearing the petitioners, the chief justice summoned AGP Anwar Mansoor on July 23 to assist the court regarding petitioners’ demands.

In the order, the court noted, “After hearing AGP Anwar Mansoor we would see what to do as many things, after hearing the petitioners, have come to our mind.”

“The factual aspects required to be ascertained. Therefore, to have whether to get the issues probed, we have to see whether the verdict against Nawaz Sharif in Al-Alzizia Mills was announced before or after the meeting [of Judge Arshad with Nasir Butt]. What is on the evidence? Whether relying on that evidence, the judgement should be rewritten or the matter should be sent for retrial?” it added. “By the grace of Allah we are strong to look into this matter,” the CJP remarked.

Justice Khosa also asked whether this court should interfere in the matter and what would be its effect on the verdict [Al-Azizia case].

He remarked, “The judge’s [Arshad Malik’s] conduct is before us. It is extraordinary and must be looked into. Immediate suspension or termination of his judgement against Nawaz Sharif is not on our mind.”

The petitioners argued that their applications were related to independence of judiciary. One petitioner advocate Tariq Asad said that institutions were interfering into political affairs instead of performing their own job. He questioned why judge Arshad met with notorious persons. It seemed that he was involved in corrupt practices, he added.

Citing House of Lords judgement in General Pinochet case, Tariq Asad said that its verdict was set aside due to the biasness of one of the members of House of Lords. The chief justice remarked that judge Arshad was under the executive control of high court and his appeal lies before the LHC.

The chief justice remarked, “The credibility of the video be examined by the competent forum. There are several laws applicable including electronic law, privacy law. How can video of a judge be made without his consent? In the last 100 years history, many judgments were rendered about authenticity of audio and video recordings. If report of competent forum is admissible, the court will have to see its relevance and evidentiary value of the video.”

Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that whatever was happening nowadays was extraordinary and shocking. The institutions had to prove themselves by sticking to law. No emotions and immediate action was required, but serious efforts were needed to unearth the truth, he added.

Ch Munir Sadiq, counsel of another petitioner Ishtiaq Mirza, contended that contempt of court proceeding should be initiated against PML-N leaders for maligning the judiciary through video of the judge. Justice Khosa remarked that there was procedure and law for contempt proceedings, adding, “By initiation of contempt proceedings, we are assuming that the allegations against judge [Arshad] are wrong.”

The chief justice said, “We do not take suo moto on demand of anyone, but if the court feels the matter is of serious nature then it will take the suo moto notice. When we observe restraint it is said that the apex court is not doing anything, but when the courts take notice of issue then people say courts are doing the judicial activism.”