ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa on Tuesday remarked that the Supreme Court (SC) can provide no relief to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif unless the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rules in his favour, as it ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complete its probe in the video leaks controversy involving accountability court judge Arshad Malik within three weeks, saying it wants to ascertain the truth of all allegations against the judge before proceeding in the matter.
The court further observed as to “why no one from the Sharif family had approached the high court to seek relief for the deposed premier from his conviction”.
The three-judge bench headed by the CJP and comprising Sheikh Azmat and Justice Umar was hearing the petitions seeking probe in the leaked video case involving accountability court judge Arshad Malik.
“It is strange that those [PML-N] interested in the release of Nawaz have not yet approached the IHC because that is the only real forum to get relief,” the CJP remarked.
He further said that the leaked-video scandal along with the alleged misconduct of the accountability court judge will not go unattended. “However we are not in a hurry, we don’t want a prejudiced trial,” he added.
“The high court, too, has the authority to probe the matter,” CJP Khosa said, adding that the IHC can launch an investigation through an appellant forum or through its constitutional authority under Article 203 wherein it supervises affairs of the accountability court.
Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, while deliberating the matter earlier, recommended that the SC should leave the matter at the discretion of the IHC.
However, another member of bench Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that they have to establish the truth. “We are looking for remedy for those who are aggrieved. We want to protect integrity of institution. We are not just examining the allegations of complainant,” he added.
The AGP, who was assisting the top court in deciding the appropriate course of action in the video leaks issue, opposed the three identical petitions filed by Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza, Sohail Akhtar and Tariq Asad seeking a directive from the apex court for the constitution of an inquiry committee or a judicial commission.
Anwar Mansoor said that there was no need for its constitution because a separate forum exists to deal with such matters.
But the chief justice made it clear that the SC would examine all evidence to prevent any loss being incurred by anyone. He said the court was considering different options — the last of which would be setting up a judicial commission — but would take a decision after perusing the inquiry report.
“We will not take a leap in the dark,” Justice Khosa said, observing that some people might want the apex court to rush through the matter.
The chief justice observed that the judicial commission, if constituted, can only give its opinion on the matter and not pass any judgement.
The chief justice wondered whether the SC should interfere in the matter at all. “Would the intervention have any benefit or will it only generate headlines?” he asked.
One of the questions being examined by the apex court, according to Justice Khosa, was whether it was appropriate for judge Malik to visit Nawaz’s residence after sentencing him.
Justice Bandial remarked that the SC had to ascertain the truth of allegations levelled by both sides while maintaining the sanctity of the court.
The bench subsequently directed the FIA to complete its probe in the matter within three weeks. The attorney general was asked by the court to ensure the inquiry is completed in a timely manner.
The attorney general earlier informed the court that the FIA had arrested Mian Tariq Mahmood, a central suspect whom judge Malik had accused of making a controversial video concerning him.
According to the law officer, Mahmood had sold the video to a man named Saleem Raza, but he (Mahmood) claimed that the cheque he received in exchange for the video could not be cashed.
The hearing of the petitions was adjourned for three weeks.
The matter of the video had surfaced earlier this month after PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz released a secretly filmed clip that showed judge Malik telling a man — identified by her as Nasir Butt — that he had been “blackmailed” and “pressured” to issue a verdict against Nawaz Sharif that landed the former prime minister in jail in the Al-Azizia reference.
In a rebuttal, Malik said that Butt had forced him to make the aforementioned claims by using a “secretly recorded manipulated immoral video [showing him] in a compromising position”, which was shot in Multan, as a threat.
Judge Malik had already been removed by the Islamabad High Court on July 12 over the scandal following weeklong consultations, including with the Supreme Court.