Arshad Malik — the accountability court judge who had sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and was later terminated after the emergence of a video scandal – has challenged his removal while describing it as illegal on Saturday. In the appeal against the departmental action culminating in his termination, Malik prayed the Lahore High Court (LHC) to declare its administrative committee’s decision as null and void. According to Malik, the allegation of joining a criminal gang coming up in the video scandal probe is baseless and he had provided the proof of facing harassment and threats to the inquiry officer. There is no justification for the inquiry officer to reject the argument that he met Nawaz Sharif under pressure and he received threats on several occasions during the hearing of the high-profile matter.The deposed accountability court judge said he was even blackmailed while the Nawaz Sharif case but his stance wasn’t accepted in the inquest. The inquiry officer also without any reasoning rejected the documentary evidence presented as defence against the allegations he faced in the video scandal, Malik added. He further claims that he was pressured to pass a biased judgment in the references but did justice to his duty. Malik says he issued an unbiased judgment despite the harassment, threats and blackmailing he faced at the hands of Nasir Butt.The verdicts in the references were based upon merit, said Malik whose appeal would be fixed for hearing before a two-member Punjab Subordinate Judiciary Service Tribunal comprising the LHC judges. On July 3 this year, the LHC had dismissed Malik after the decision was approved by its administrative committee in a meeting presided over by Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan.The administrative committee headed by the chief justice comprised senior LHC judges including Justice Malik Shehzad Ahmed Khan, Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, Justice Ayesha A Malik, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice All Baqir Najafi. In his reaction, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif expressed his joy over the move, saying he was thankful to Almighty Allah that the decision had proved the innocence of Nawaz Sharif who served the country tirelessly.“It is proved that the judge did not issue the verdict on the basis of justice and the three-time prime minister was sentenced wrongly,” he said in his statement.Shehbaz also added that the justice demanded immediate revocation of the sentence awarded to Nawaz Sharif.PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz had alleged last year that the judge had contacted Nasir Butt, a PML-N worker, and told him that he was feeling guilty and having nightmares ever since he announced the verdict that led to Nawaz’s imprisonment.The judge was “blackmailed” into handing down the sentence against Nawaz Sharif after some people threatened that they would release a private video of his, she said.Maryam had claimed that the judge was under immense pressure to send the former prime minister to jail, and that he had contemplated committing suicide several times since. She said the judge did not write the verdict but “was made to write” the prison sentence for Nawaz Sharif.Malik, after becoming embroiled in the video scandal, had penned a letter to the IHC in July wherein he had refuted Maryam’s claims and revealed other information related to the controversy.Responding to the allegations, the accountability court judge had called the video presented by the PML-N as fake and fallacious. He had demanded legal action against those involved in producing the videotape.Later, he was suspended in August 2019 and posted as an officer on special duty (OSD) at the Lahore Sessions Court in September 2019, as the Islamabad High Court repatriated him to the LHC, his parent department, for disciplinary proceedings.Malik, on December 4, 2018, had handed Nawaz Sharif seven years in jail in the Al Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference. He, however, had acquitted him in a second reference related to Flagship Investments.