Seeking government assistance over recently emerged video controversy of an accountability court judge Arshad Malik who had been accused of awarding sentence to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Al-Aziza corruption reference under coercion, the top court on Tuesday observed it will examine all aspects of the case profoundly.
As many as three pleas have been filed before the Supreme Court seeking court directives for inquiry into the video scandal. The petitioners include Ishtiaq Mirza, Sohail Akhtar and Tariq Hassan advocate who made Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif and former president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), former Judge of the accountability court Islamabad II Arshad Malik and the federal government as respondents.
After brief hearing of arguments of counsels for three identical petitioners on Tuesday, a three-member bench led by the Chief Justice Sardar Asif Saeed Khan Khosa sought assistance of the Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan over questions of law related to the matter in hand.
Appearing on behalf of his Ishtiaq Mirza, advocate Munir Sadiq Chaudhry termed the controversial video released by vice president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz as ‘targeting the judiciary’. Chaudhry urged the court to issue directives for inquiry to determine the truth in the matter seeking necessary directives for ensuring independence of judiciary including proceedings for the contempt of court against those found guilty.
The counsel claimed that political parties have also requested the top court to take suo-motu notice over the video controversy to which Chief Justice plainly responded it is discretion of the court to decide which matter should be taken under suo-motu for adjudication. He observed if court took notice in response to people wish then it will no more be a suo-motu notice.
However, the Chief Justice Khosa remarked the controversy must be examined observing that meetings of the accountability court judge Arshad Malik were unusual and extraordinary saying the issue in hand is about integrity of the judiciary.
Chief Justice Khosa also observed the court will have to look into the fact whether adjudication of the current matter in top court have impact on proceedings of the same matter which is pending before Islamabad High Court.
Ikram Chaudhry, the counsel for Sohail Akhtar urged the court to issue directives for formation of a commission to inquire into matter saying judiciary role is being portrayed controversial in wake of leaked video of accountability judge. To which Chief Justice Khosa remarked the court will also have to examine the contempt of court proceedings in the current matter.
Appearing before the bench in his personal capacity another petitioner, advocate of the apex court Tariq Asad requested the bench to form an inquiry commission of a retired judge of the Supreme Court. To which Chief Justice Khosa said the current matter is about misconduct of judge Arshad Malik whereas the court would have to examine the applicability of contempt of court in addition to examining authenticity of the controversial video.
On the occasion, a member of the bench Justice Umar Ata Bandial identified three key issues that need to be taken into consideration while deciding the matter in hand which are sanctity of the institution, the correctness of the judgment and any misconduct by the judge under scrutiny. Justice Bandial was of the view that there is a competent court to decide on the correctness of judgment while laws were there to initiate misconduct proceeding against the judge if required.
Justice Bandial remarked sanctity of the institution should be protected which he said would be taken up when the dust has settled to avoid emotional reactions.
Finally the Supreme Court decided to seek legal assistance of Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan in the matter. The AGO has proceeded to International Court of Justice which is set to pronounce verdict over Kulbhushan Jadhav matter on July 17.
Later, the top court adjourned hearing of the case till July 23.
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