Axact scam: SC wants fake degree case resolved real fast

Court orders then withdraws directions for accused’s names to be added to ECL

Our Correspondent February 10, 2018
Justice Nisar directs DG FIA to submit report within 10 days. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: The top court has directed high courts and trial courts to expeditiously decide cases related to the Axact fake degree scam.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, has directed the Sindh High Court as well as Islamabad High Court to decide cases related to the scam within one month.

The bench has also ordered the trial court – Karachi South – to decide the matter within two months.  It asked the FIA to move intra-court appeals against the quashing of related FIRs against accused persons.

Graduates of Ashwood University

On the requests of two senior journalists, the court withdrew its order to place the names of all the accused on the exit control list.

During the hearing, the court was told that the FIA’s appeals against the acquittal of accused are pending in the IHC and SHC.

Meanwhile, SHC registrar appeared before the bench and stated that the appeal against the acquittal of accused persons has yet to be fixed. Upon this, the justices expressed surprise and asked him to list the case before a division bench next week.

Likewise, FIA DG Bashir Memon submitted that the accused have been acquitted in a money laundering case by a special judge Islamabad. Upon this, the bench asked the IHC registrar to fix the matter before a division bench led by Justice Athar Minallah. The chief justice asked whether this was the same case wherein a judge allegedly accepted a bribe. The IHC registrar confirmed that Judge Pervaizul Qadir Memon has been suspended over the charge and proceedings against him are ongoing with the high court’s committee.

Meanwhile, the PHC registrar was not present. The bench expressed anger over his absence. A senior PHC official told the bench that a single bench had already disposed of the matter on January 19. But the FIA official stated that they have yet to receive a copy of the order. The FIA then said it would move an intra-court appeal against the order.

Later, the FIA DG official informed the bench that one case is still pending in the trial court but the accused persons have not been appearing in court in the last 15 hearings. Upon this, the bench asked the FIA to move a plea for cancellation of their bails, if they do not appear in the trial court. The chief justice said that any failure to cooperate by the accused will not be accepted. He also observed that the scandal has brought a bad name to Pakistan.

During the hearing, the FIA DG submitted that Axact runs websites for over 330 ‘universities’ which do not even have campuses. He also asked if it is possible or plausible that a person can ‘earn’ a degree within an hour for Rs500,000.

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He also stated that around 70 per cent of the company's revenue comes from these ‘universities’ and that the company also has nine other business units. He said Axact has its own ‘accreditation’ platform.

The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) through lawyer Asma Jahangir moved an application highlighting irregularities in Axact's businesses and its linkages with Labbaik media house, which operates Bol.

The bench issued a notice to Shoaib Sheikh to submit a reply to the PBA’s plea. Later, Jahangir strongly objected to the court’s decision to reverse its earlier order to place their names on ECL.  Sheikh requested the bench to give its ruling on the online degree business. Upon this, the chief justice asked him to move a separate application in this matter.