ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict in a case regarding controversial video scandal involving former accountability court judge Arshad Malik.

A three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard three identical petitions regarding conducting an inquiry into the conduct of judge Arshad Malik in the wake of controversial video.

During the course of proceedings, the CJP observed that the case was related to two videos, including the one through which the judge was blackmailed while the other was made public by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Vice-president Maryam Nawaz at a press conference.

Judge Arshad Malik had already stated that the objectionable video was real while how the veracity of the other one played at Maryam’s press conference could be confirmed, the chief justice asked.

Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan said a forensic examination of the first video had been carried out, but it was difficult to ascertain authenticity of the second one played at Maryam’s press conference, because it was taken from YouTube.

Thousands of judges in country felt ashamed due to Arshad Malik’s conduct, remarks CJP

Upon this, Chief Justice Khosa remarked that experts should be consulted as to whether a forensic audit of the video could be done.

Discussing the interim report of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the chief justice observed that Nasir Janjua, one of the main suspects in the case, had said that he played a key role in judge’s appointment.

He remarked that thousands of judges in the country, who were honest and upright, felt ashamed due to Arshad Malik’s conduct.

He asked why the judge was not being repatriated to the Lahore High Court (LHC) so that disciplinary proceedings could be initiated against him.

The attorney general replied that Arshad Malik had not been relieved by the federal government due to the ongoing investigation against him.

The chief justice asked whether anyone had moved the high court to get relief on the basis of the video. The attorney general replied in the negative.

The SC bench, after hearing the case, remarked that an appropriate order would be passed in a couple of days.

The FIA report revealed, “The subject video of complainant Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik was made by accused Mian Tariq Mehmood r/o Multan from 2000 to 2003, when the former was posted as additional district and sessions judge, Multan.

“As per Affidavit dated 11-07-2019 of Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik complainant, he was contacted by two acquaintances namely Maher Ghulam Jilani and Mian Nasir Janjua. During the meeting, accused Mian Nasir Janjua claimed that he was appointed as the judge on his specific and personal recommendation to an influential person in the then PML-N government.

“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Reference No 18/2017 (Flagship Reference) and Reference No 19/2017 (HME Reference) were transferred for trial to Accountability Court No. II, Islamabad in August 2018 after five months of [the] appointment of the complainant judge. As per Affidavit dated 11-07-2019 of the complainant judge, at a social sitting attended by both accused Nasir Janjua and Maher Ghulam Jilani, the accused Nasir Janjua took him aside and implored him to give [a] verdict of acquittal in both the said references. Besides, judge’s deposed that he was again approached by accused Nasir Janjua and Maher Ghulam Jilani who offered him Euros equivalent to Rs100 million and immediately Euros equivalent to Rs20 million were available in their vehicle outside. However, [the] offer of the bribe was made prior to the decision of the references.”

The report added, “Reference 18 and 19 of 2017 of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif ex-prime minister were decided on 24-12-2018.”

“As per affidavit of the complainant judge, the accused Nasir Butt met him and threatened him regarding [the] revelation of subject video by accused Nasir Janjua. 

“Whereas at that time the complainant judge showed his ignorance about such video and accused Nasir Mehmood Butt told him that he will be shown the same in a couple of days. After [a] couple of days, accused Mian Tariq Mehmood visited the house of complainant Judge Malik and showed him the subject video.”

The report said, “During [the] confrontation between the complainant Judge Malik and accused Nasir Janjua, when the complainant was asked whether accused Nasir Janjua ever personally showed the subject video to him, the complainant Judge Malik replied that he did not. However, the complainant maintained the version and accusations in his affidavit and complaint.”

“As per reply of Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to the FIA questionnaire, he claimed ignorance stating that Maryam Safdar can give clarifications regarding the video at the judge’s residence made by accused Nasir Mehmood Butt. Other participants namely Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Attaullah Tarrar of questioned press conference dated 06-07-2019 adopted a similar stance.

“Significantly, Maryam Safdar, who led the press conference of the PML-N senior leadership and gave a detailed narrative and commentary on the audio/video attributed to the complainant and played at the press conference has attempted to distance and disassociate herself from the details and specifics of the acquisition, origins, source, recording, dissemination, release and timing of the said audio/video (played on her instructions at the press conference with subtitles) and also the specifics of the individual who actually undertook and conducted the recording of the said audio/video as played at the press conference and, in her reply, has sought to place the entire responsibility and burden in respect of aforementioned matters upon accused Nasir Mehmood Butt.

“As regards the subject video, again, Maryam Safdar now claims not to have ever obtained or seen the same and has sought to completely disassociate herself from the subject video, although, according to the transcript received from PEMRA, she spoke at length of the subject video in the following terms at the press conference of 6-7-2019 which contradicts her later stance,” said the FIA report.