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Friday Jul 12 2019

IHC requests law ministry to remove judge Arshad Malik after video controversy

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday requested the law ministry to remove accountability court judge Arshad Malik over the video controversy.  

Earlier in the day, judge Malik had written a letter to the IHC refuting Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz’s allegations and the video purportedly showing the judge admitting to lack of evidence against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

In an affidavit submitted to the IHC, Malik denied the contents of the video and termed them as edited, fabricated, aimed to defame him, sources said.

According to an IHC spokesperson, acting IHC Chief Justice Amir Farooq received judge Malik's letter and then decided to request the law ministry to remove him from the post. 

The spokesperson further said, on the order of Chief Justice Farooq, judge Malik's affidavit and letter has been made part of Nawaz Sharif's acquittal plea. 

Sources said, the IHC chief justice had summoned judge Malik two to three times and questioned him regarding the controversy.

Sources said, judge Malik was asked about meeting PML-N worker Nasir Butt and others, however, he failed to satisfy the chief justice with his answers.  

Judge Malik is currently hearing the fake accounts case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, the rental power case against former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and references against former prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

The judge is also hearing several National Accountability Bureau references as well. 

Video controversy 

Last week, the PML-N had released a video clip purportedly showing the judge Malik allegedly admitting to a lack of evidence against former Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference. In December, the accountability court judge had sentenced Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison in the same corruption case.

Maryam alleged that the judge had contacted Nasir Butt, a PML-N worker, and told him that he was feeling guilty and having nightmares ever since he announced the verdict that led to Nawaz Sharif's imprisonment.

The judge was "blackmailed" into handing down the sentence against Nawaz Sharif after some people threatened that they would release a private video of his, she alleged. She said the judge did not write the sentence but "was made to write" the prison sentence for Nawaz Sharif.

She claimed the judge was under immense pressure to send the former prime minister to jail, and that he had contemplated committing suicide several times since. 

Later, the accountability court judge called the video presented by the PML-N as fake and fallacious. He demanded legal action against those involved in producing the video tape.

In a post on Twitter after the IHC decision, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the case against Nawaz Sharif should be declared void.

"The verdict against Nawaz Sharif should be declared void as it has now confirmed that the video was not fake and that the judge was coerced into indicting the former prime minister," Aurangzeb said.