Judge Arshad Malik goes unpunished despite ‘immoral activity’ confession
The fate of the two decisions given by former accountability court judge Arshad Malik in two references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is being eagerly awaited by political as well as legal circles as appeals against the two are pending with the Islamabad High Court.
The interest in the two appeals has grown because of the judge’s dismissal by a seven-member administrative committee of the Lahore High Court (LHC) for “misconduct”.
While filing appeal against a court decision is routine, all eyes are focused on these two appeals because the impugned decisions have a bearing on the political future of the PML-N president and because of the fate the judge has met.
The LHC disciplinary committee that removed Judge Malik Arshad from service has not defined the “misconduct” on the basis of which it took the decision. However, the dictionary says misconduct means unacceptable or improper behaviour, especially by an employee or professional person. It also means: mismanagement, especially culpable neglect of duties.
Judge Arshad Malik had convicted the three-time former prime minister in the Al-Azizia reference but acquitted him in the Flagship reference.
Mr Sharif has challenged his conviction while the NAB has appealed against his acquittal in the other case.
Lawyers are giving varying opinions on the likely fate of the appeals. Most of them say the cases are expected to be sent back for re-trial as after Judge Arshad Malik’s dismissal verdicts in both the cases have become controversial.
Another opinion is that if the PML-N accepts the acquittal decision, then it will also have to accept the conviction order. There is no room for “cherry picking”.
But a disturbing fact is that despite all legal hair-splitting nobody is discussing the “immorality” the former judge had confessed to be involved in. Also, it’s not clear why the disciplinary committee failed to pass any order about it.
The judge himself says that a video of his immoral activity was used to blackmail him. But neither the administrative committee took notice of this point nor have the lawyers called for any action against the judge on the basis of this confession.
A judge is supposed to be a man of integrity and ideal character in all situations. A man occupying this coveted seat is also required to be man of steel nerves, unafraid of threats, capable of rejecting all inducements/pressures.
It is said that justice should be done even if heavens fall.
Unluckily judge Arshad Malik has disappointed the nation by his conduct. His assertion that he was “blackmailed” means nothing but an admission that justice was “not” done in this case.
This has provided the three-time former prime minister – sitting in London along with many other family members since long - with a justification to allege that he was not given justice.
The character of the judge has made even the second judgment – whereby Mian Nawaz Sharif was acquitted in the Flagship reference - controversial. It is hard to imagine the real considerations behind it.
When the judge himself is confessing involvement in immoral activities and a tape thereof was also available, he deserved a separate punishment on this count.
After the conviction verdict the judge’s reported meetings with the former prime minister at his Jatiumra residence and with his son Hussain Nawaz in Madinah also raise questions about his integrity. Had he been an honest judge, he would not have met the father and the son at all.
He has caused tremendous embarrassment to judges at all tiers.