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‘Legally, Technically, The Leaked Video Is A Non-Starter’

Maryam Nawaz press conference Judge Arshad Malik leaked video
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LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leaders on Saturday presented a video of Accountability Court’s Judge Arshad Malik allegedly confessing in a private conversation that he had convicted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Al Azizia case under pressure.

Holding a press conference along with senior party leaders including Shehbaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other senior party members, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif played the video where Judge Arshad Malik was telling a PML-N party official Nasir Butt that he had convicted Nawaz Sharif under pressure and had found no evidence of corruption against the former premier.

In a rebuttal issued on Sunday, Arshad Malik stated that the video was doctored and presented in the media ‘without context’. He termed the video a ‘conspiracy to malign him and his family’.

The video may have shaken the political scene of the country but does it change anything in the legal position of Al Azizia judgment?

Senior lawyer Asad Jamal doesn’t think so. Talking to Naya Daur, Asad Jamal said that there was nothing new in the video that could have a critical impact on the judgment.

“What’s new in this video? The judge says he found no evidence of corruption against Nawaz Sharif, but that is exactly what he had written in the judgment as well. He had convicted Nawaz Sharif because the latter had failed to produce the money trail in the Al Azizia reference. And it is a fact that no money trail was presented in the court”.

On the question of the video’s admissibility as evidence in the court of law, Asad Jamal said that since Judge Arshad Malik has stated that the video is doctored, it is clear that it was made without his consent or knowledge. “In such a scenario, if PML-N presents the video in the court, it’ll prove counterproductive for them as criminal proceedings may be initiated against the person who made the video for invasion of the privacy of a judge”, he added.

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But lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani has a different opinion on the admissibility of the video as evidence. When contacted by Naya Daur, Hamdani said that the video in his opinion was admissible in the court of law ‘subject to a forensic audit’. Yasser went on to say that the press release issued by Arshad Malik as a rebuttal to the press conference ‘as far as I can understand is an admission not a denial of its veracity’. “So even without a forensic audit, it is clear that the video is genuine and not fake”, Yasser added.

Asad Jamal, however, says that according to the law, for a video to be presented as evidence, the person who made the video must appear before the court and submit the evidence in person. Referring to the State vs. National Awami Party (NAP) case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Jamal said that the DSP who had made the videos of the speeches of NAP’s leaders, had personally appeared before the court, submitted the evidence, presented his testimony and was duly cross-examined before the court finally admitted the video evidence presented by him.

“But this case involves invasion of the privacy of a judge and violation of his constitutional guarantee. Even if the said person (Nasir Butt) appears before the court, submits the evidence in person and presents himself for whatever punishment it may entail for him, and the video passes the forensic audit too, I still don’t think it’ll be acceptable for the court to admit it as evidence”, he said.

So legally and technically, this leaked video is a non-starter, Jamal added.

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