Dr Farogh Naseem, Law Minister of Pakistan addressed the Press Conference following the removal of Judge Arshad Malik and said that the sentence will not be overturned unless the High court finds the verdict to be given under duress by the accountability judge.
Referring to the affidavit submitted by Judge Malik, Naseem said “The law ministry has stopped Arshad sahab from working [as a judge] for now. In the affidavit, the judge has said that he issued the verdict without any pressure or intimidation,”
On December 4th 2018, Judge Malik had convicted Nawaz Sharif on accounts of corruption in the Al Aziza Steel Mill reference. Maryam Nawaz, daughter of the convicted former Prime Minister said that the judge convicted Nawaz Sharif as he was “pressurised and blackmailed” and released videos that backs-up her claim.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will hear the case on Tuesday 16th July regarding the case of leaked videos involving Judge Arshad Malik.
“If we go by this affidavit, then it is clear that he [the judge] has issued the verdict without any pressure,” Naseem said. In the affidavit, Judge proclaimed that he was threatened and bribed by PML-N’s representatives to issue verdict in favour of Nawaz Sharif in the steel mill and flagship investment cases and later coerced him to resign.
In reference to these allegations, Minister said “According to National Accountability Ordinance Section 31 [prohibition to hamper investigation] and this country’s law, if anyone tries to manipulate or bribe a judge, there is a separate punishment for that […] 10 year-sentence for intimidating judiciary.”
Furthermore, “The National Accountability Bureau cannot do anything regarding the sentence [in Al Azizia]; the IHC has to decide,”Nasim said. “The sentence cannot immediately be suspended, cannot be extended or changed in any way until IHC takes a decision regarding whether the judgement was issued under pressure.” He also added that “The law ministry and government stand by the judiciary; we will not victimise anyone or take sides but will not tolerate manipulation of judiciary,”
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar regarding the affidavit and the allegations said “It has been said [in the affidavit] that the judge was appointed by someone. The judge in his affidavit says he did not even know he had been appointed,” said Akbar. “It is also important to note how the case was transferred to Arshad […] the witnesses’ statements were recorded in accountability judge Mohammad Bashir’s court but they [PML-N] expressed lack of confidence and the case was transferred.” “The affidavit names Nawaz Sharif, who was out on bail at the time, saying he met the judge in Raiwind,” Akbar claimed. “The judge was given a script with a threat that if he did not say what was written, a video will be leaked and he would be defamed.”
Further quoting the affidavit, Akbar said “On another occasion, Nasir Butt [the PML-N ‘sympathiser’ seen in the video in which the judge allegedly confessed to being under pressure], threatened him,”
Akbar concluded that “The names in the affidavit have become important […] as we will have to determine who blackmailed whom. The video can also be investigated by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) cyber crime unit,”