Lahore     -   The Lahore High Court (LHC) has initiated disciplinary proceedings against former judge of the Accountability Court-II, Islamabad Arshad Malik, who was repatriated to LHC on Thursday on the orders of Islamabad High Court (IHC).

LHC Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan on Friday called a meeting of the seven-judge Administration Committee on August 26 to discuss the matter of misconduct on the part of the judicial officer whose “disclosures and admissions” led to the “initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him”.

The committee, headed by the chief justice himself, comprises of Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh, Justice Qasim Ali Khan, Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Aminud Din Khan, Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan.

The committee will discuss the video in which Arshad Malik could be seen talking to Nasir Butt, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)stalwart.

It was that video on the basis of which Malik was accused by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz of contacting Butt and telling him that he was feeling guilty and having nightmares ever since he gave the verdict that led to the conviction of her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Although the judge had defended himself by refuting Maryam’s claims, the court ordered his repatriation to the LHC and initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him over ‘misconduct’.

The court’s order says, “The disclosures and admissions made by Mr Muhammad Arshad Malik, District & Sessions Judge/Former Judge, Accountability Court-II, Islamabad in his press release dated 07.07.2019 and the affidavit dated 11.07.2019, prima facie, constitute acts of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct, which warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.”

The IHC chief justice ordered “to place the said Judicial Officer under suspension and repatriate to his parent department i.e. Lahore High Court, Lahore, with immediate effect, for disciplinary proceedings to be conducted in accordance with law.”

As per the National Judicial Policy 2009, “The prime duty of a judge is to present before the public a clean image of judiciary. The oath of a judge implies complete submission to the Constitution and under the Constitution to the law. Subject to these governing obligations, his function of interpretation and application of the Constitution and the law is to be discharged for the maintenance of rule of law. To be a living embodiment of these powers, functions and obligations call for possession of the highest qualities of intellect and character.”

According to the procedure laid down by the Supreme Judicial Council under Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan, “Misconduct” includes, “(i) conduct unbecoming of a Judge, (ii) is in disregard of the Code of Conduct issued under Article 209(8) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, (iii) is found to be inefficient or has ceased to be efficient”.

When contacted, LHC Bar Association President Hafeezur Rehman said that the Supreme Judicial Council would decide whether a judge is capable of performing the duties or is guilty of misconduct, and therefore should be removed from office. Likewise, he added, the Administration Committee investigated the cases of misconduct relating to the judges of lower courts.

He said that the Administration Committee would conduct a thorough investigation against the judge in which complete procedure of a normal trial would be adopted such as opening statements; presentation of evidence; direct examination of witnesses; cross-examination of witnesses; presentation of evidence by the defendant and rebuttals of the evidence presented by the defendant.

Regarding the so-called video scandal, the LHCBA president said the AC had the powers to get the video forensically verified if the judge pleaded not guilty.  Even in case of confession, he added, the case would not be decided immediately; rather all the evidences would be examined before pronouncing the verdict.