Can Sharifs meet SC conditions for video’s authenticity?

Ostensibly, no possibility of more videos being made public

LAHORE - It was on July 6 when Maryam Nawaz addressed a news conference at her party’s Model Town office. In the presence of many senior party leaders she came out with some startling claims about how an accountability court judge had convicted her father – three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – in Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference “without any evidence” against him.

She played a secretly-recorded video of a conversation between one Nasir Butt, a man she described as a loyalist of her father, and Judge Arshad Malik, in which the judge is telling Mr Butt that he was feeling “guilty” and “having nightmares” after announcing the “unjust” verdict against Nawaz.

She described the video as a “divine help” for her family as the judge acknowledged that he had been “blackmailed” and “pressured” into issuing a judgment against the PML-N supremo.

Maryam claimed that the judge could be heard saying in the video that Nawaz Sharif was convicted although “there is no allegation of financial corruption” in the case. “There is no evidence that any money was taken from any department,” she quoted Judge Malik as saying.

The PML-N vice president also quoted the judge as saying that he even contemplated “suicide” because of the pressure he was under.

That news conference was the biggest news of the day. Many people expressed sympathy for the incarcerated PML-N leader and cursed the judicial system. Almost everyone reviled judge Arshad Malik as his conduct was unbecoming of the office he was holding.

Arguing that after this video there was no justification left for the government to keep her father in Kot Lakhpat jail, Maryam even started a campaign to get her father released. She raised the issue at a number of public meetings she addressed in various remote areas.

But the public feelings in the country changed on Friday when a three-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed came up with a verdict about the video.

“The relevant video cannot be of any legal benefit to Nawaz Sharif unless it is properly produced before the Islamabad High Court in the pending appeal, its genuineness is established and then the same is proved in accordance with the law for it to be treated as evidence in the case”.

The judgment listed many requirements in order to prove an audio tape or a video before a court of law. Among others, the requirements include:

No audio tape or video can be relied upon by a court until the same is proved to be genuine and not tampered with or doctored.

Accuracy of the recording must be proved and satisfactory evidence has to be produced so as to rule out any possibility of tampering with the record.

The person recording the conversation or event has to be produced and must produce the audio tape or video himself.

An audio tape or video produced before a court as evidence ought to be clearly audible or viewable.

The source of an audio tape or video becoming available has to be disclosed.

Will the Sharif family be able to meet these requirements to be able to seek any relief for the former prime minister? Will it be possible for them to prove the authenticity of the video?

Will they be able to produce before court the person who recorded the conversation, who is also required to produce the audio tape or video himself?

Apparently, it is very difficult for the Sharifs to meet these requirements. The man who is accused of having recorded the video is with the FIA trying to save his own skin.

There were also whispers that Maryam was also in possession of some more videos against some important people.

The authenticity of those videos would also be judged by the same standards laid by the apex court.

In the prevailing situation perhaps the PML-N leadership may have to review its thinking about the videos in waiting.