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Former accountability judge Arshad Malik passes away from Covid-19

Former accountability judge Arshad Malik has passed away in Islamabad after contracting the coronavirus, his family said on Friday.

The news of his demise was confirmed by Malik's brother-in-law, Waheed Javed. Speaking to Dawn, he said Malik's condition was critical for the past two days and he had been placed on the ventilator.

He added that the former judge was under treatment at Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad.

Malik is survived by two sons and two daughters.

In December 2018, Malik had convicted ex-premier Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia reference, sentencing him to seven years in jail. However, he had acquitted Sharif in the Flagship reference.

But in July 2020, after a year-long inquiry, the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) administration committee had removed Malik from service on charges of misconduct relating to a video scandal that broke in 2019, and which sent ripples through political and legal circles.

The scandal was brought to the limelight by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, who had at the time come forward with video clips purportedly showing Malik's confession that he had been “pressured and blackmailed” to convict Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia corruption reference.

A seven-member administration committee, headed by the then LHC chief justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan, in its meeting on Aug 26 last year had approved an inquiry against District and Sessions Judge Arshad Malik.

Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem of the LHC had been tasked with the inquiry. The PML-N had accused judge Malik of convicting Nawaz in the Al-Azizia reference under duress. However, the judge had acquitted the former premier of the charges in the Flagship Investments reference.

After Maryam had released alleged video/audio clips of judge Malik at a press conference in July, the IHC had summoned him and directed him to submit an affidavit explaining his position.

In his affidavit, the judge had denied the party’s claim, saying he had been blackmailed by PML-N supporters through an “immoral video”. He also admitted to meeting with Nawaz at Jati Umra residence and his son Hussain in Saudi Arabia.

The controversy continued to make news as Maryam released two more video clips "in support" of the first one.

Finally, the IHC on Aug 22 had suspended and repatriated the judge to the LHC, his parent department, for further disciplinary proceedings.

A notification issued by the IHC registrar had said: “The disclosure and admission made by Mr Muhammad Arshad Malik, district & sessions judge/former judge accountability court-II Islamabad in a press release dated July 7, 2019 and the affidavit dated July 11, 2019, prima facie, constitute acts of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct, which warrant initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him.”

The LHC on Sept 14 made the judge an officer on special duty from the date of his suspension and posted him to the sessions court.

The Federal Investigation Agency also launched an inquiry into the video scandal and initially arrested three persons on charges of pressurising and blackmailing judge Malik. They were later exonerated by a judicial magistrate.

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