LHC terminates Judge Arshad Malik, who sent Nawaz Sharif to jail
Shehbaz says former prime minister’s innocence proved: Demands revocation of sentence
In a major development, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday dismissed Arshad Malik – the accountability court judge who had sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a NAB reference, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The decision was approved by the administrative committee of the Lahore High Court in a meeting presided over by LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan.
The administrative committee headed by the chief justice comprises senior LHC judges including Justice Malik Shehzad Ahmed Khan, Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, Justice Ayesha A Malik, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice All Baqir Najafi.
In his reaction, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif expressed his joy over the move, saying he was thankful to Almighty Allah that the decision had proved the innocence of Nawaz Sharif who served the country tirelessly.
“It is proved that the judge did not issue the verdict on the basis of justice and the three-time prime minister was sentenced wrongly,” he said in his statement.
Shehbaz also added that the justice demanded immediate revocation of the sentence awarded to Nawaz.
The LHC administrative committee’s decision was proof of Nawaz’s innocence, the PML-N president said as he asked the people and party supporters to offer special prayers as an expression of thanks.
PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz had alleged last year 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'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 had alleged.
Judge Malik, after becoming embroiled in the so-called judge video scandal, had penned a letter to the IHC in July wherein he had refuted Maryam’s claims and revealed other information related to the controversy.
In an affidavit submitted to the court, Malik had denied the contents of the video — which purportedly showed him admitting to a lack of evidence against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — and termed them edited, fabricated, and aimed to defame him.
Maryam had claimed that the judge was under immense pressure to send the former prime minister to jail, and that he had contemplated committing suicide several times since. She said the judge did not write the verdict but "was made to write" the prison sentence for Nawaz Sharif.
Responding to the allegations, the accountability court judge had called the video presented by the PML-N as fake and fallacious. He had demanded legal action against those involved in producing the videotape.
Suspended, made OSD
Former accountability judge Muhammad Arshad Malik — suspended in August 2019 over the video leak controversy — was posted as an officer on special duty (OSD) at the Lahore Sessions Court in September 2019.
A notification to this effect was circulated by the registrar after approval by the chief justice of the Lahore High Court.
The Islamabad High Court on July 12, 2019, had removed Judge Malik from his post amid a controversy surrounding a leaked videotape showing his purported confession that he had been “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia corruption reference.
The judge had denied the allegations, saying there was no pressure on him to convict Nawaz Sharif and that the videos shown by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz of his alleged confession at a press conference were "fake and based on lies".
Judge Malik, on December 4, 2018, had handed Nawaz Sharif seven years in jail in the Al Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference. He, however, had acquitted him in a second reference related to Flagship Investments.
Following the controversy, the Islamabad High Court had repatriated him to the LHC, his parent department, for disciplinary proceedings.
A notification issued by the IHC on August 22, 2019, stated that the disclosures and admissions made by Judge Malik in his press release issued on July 7 — a day after Maryam's presser — and in an affidavit he submitted to the IHC on July 11, 2019, to deny the allegations against him, prima facie "constitute acts of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct, which warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him".
According to the notification, due to the above reasons, the IHC chief justice had issued orders to place Judge Malik under suspension and repatriate him to the LHC with immediate effect, "for disciplinary proceedings to be conducted in accordance with law".