ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday disposed of a petition filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, seeking a review of an August 23 verdict by the top court regarding a video scandal involving former accountability court judge Arshad Malik.

The Supreme Court Tuesday that its observations in former judge Arshad Malik’s video scam would not influence Nawaz Sharif’s appeal in Al-Azizia Mills pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprised Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Syed Mansoor Shah, said this while hearing the review petitions of Nawaz Sharif, advocates Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza and Sohail Akhtar.

The court noted in its order, “Nothing in the order dated 23-08-2019 is to be construed as precluding the petitioner (Nawaz Sharif) from agitating any questions or stemming from or before the appellate court, or any other court or authority, before whom any such question is raised shall decide the same without in any manner being influenced by anything said, or finding given, by apex court in its 23-08-2019 order.”

During the hearing, Khawaja Haris advocate, the counsel for Sharif, adopted that his client had not been issued any notice before passage of the order. He argued that the judgment on Arshad Malik video case had the tendency of tying the hands of Islamabad High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction and in choosing various options legally available to it in deciding the former premier’s appeal in Al-Azizia case.

Says its observations won’t influence IHC proceedings

The court noted that constitutional petitions (Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza, Sohail Akhtar and Tariq Asad) wherein the order was passed had never been admitted to regular hearing because the court had found that the stage was not appropriate for it to interfere in the matter.

The Supreme Court in August this year had passed the order “It may not be an appropriate stage for it to interfere in the matter of the video scam and its effects, particularly when said video may have relevance to a criminal appeal presently sub judice before the Islamabad High Court.”

It also said that a criminal investigation has already been consigned to Federal Investigation Agency.

The bench said that as the relevant constitutional petitions had never been admitted to regular hearing, therefore, there was hardly any occasion for issuing any notice in that regard to the former prime minister, particularly when no order adverse to him was being passed.

Regarding its order pertaining to admissibility and relevance of the audio or video tape as evidence, the bench said: “The part of the order for review was meant only to be a compendium of legal opinion coming to its notice on the subject which might not be exhaustive and the door of further legal interpretation on the subject was not, and could not be, closed in that regard.”

Regarding tying the IHC hands in exercise of its jurisdiction and in choosing the various options legally available to it in deciding Nawaz Sharif appeal against his conviction and sentence, the bench said: “We would not like to comment on these aspects any further as the choices available with the IHC would lie within the jurisdiction of the High Court and such choices would be exercised by it on the basis of the facts found and the conclusions reached by it.” The apex court, however, dismissed ex-PM’s petition. “We have heard the counsel for petitioner (Nawaz Sharif) at some length. No ground for review is made out, thus dismissed.”

The apex court in its judgment dated August 23 held that only Islamabad High Court can take video of ex-judge Accountability Court, Islamabad, Arshad Malik in evidence as the appeal of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia case is pending before it.

“We find that it may not be an appropriate stage for this court to interfere in the matter of the relevant video and its effects, particularly when the said video may have relevance to a criminal appeal presently sub judice before the Islamabad High Court,” said 25 pages judgment on Arshad Malik video scam.

PML-N Vice-President Maryam Safdar on July 6, along with the senior leaders of PML-N, held press conference wherein she displayed a video recording allegedly a conversation between judge of Accountability Court Arshad Malik with respondent No.6 (Nasir Butt), which had created an impression that the judiciary was not working independently rather it was blackmailed and forced to act on the instruction of blackmailing persons.