KARACHI: The elections were held, the respondents defeated and now new elections are approaching - yet the case of the fake degrees continues to haunt the influential couple from Badin, Ali Bux Shah aka Pappu Shah and his wife ex-senator Bibi Yasmeen Shah. On Monday, a full bench of the High Court of Sindh (SHC) issued them notices to appear in person or send a lawyer to represent them.
Justices Gulzar Ahmed, Maqbool Baqar and Sajjad Ali Shah heard a review petition filed by the Election Commission. The commission is seeking the review of an order passed by a full SHC bench. On December 27, 2007, that bench disposed of a constitutional petition that was filed by Dr Fehmida Mirza (now speaker of the National Assembly and her husband Dr Zulfiqar Mirza) against an order of an appellate tribunal. The bench referred the matter to the tribunal that was supposed to hold an inquiry into whether Pappu Shah’s BBA degree and his wife’s graduation degree were genuine.
The full bench ordered the tribunal to decide the validity, record the evidence and decide the issue in four months. The success of the Mirzas depended on the outcome of the Shahs’ degrees.
Pappu Shah and Bibi Yasmeen Shah lost in the general elections of 2008 but the controversy of their degrees has stayed alive. In the intervening period, correspondence to decide the matter has shuttled between different law offices, including that of the Deputy Attorney General (then Rizwan Ahmed Siddiqui), the Registrar of the SHC, the Election Commission.
Finding itself in a fix, the commission has now decided to seek a review of the full bench’s order on the grounds that appellate tribunals are established at the time of elections for a specified period and then cease to operate. These special tribunals don’t have the jurisdiction to hear, record evidence and decide issues in detail, the ECP has argued in its review petition and application.
Under the law, an appellate tribunal, even if revived, would not serve any useful purpose as it does not have the jurisdiction to decide the issue according to the directives of the SHC full bench, the ECP said, asking the SHC to review the order of December 2007.
On Monday, the federal government was represented by DAG Imam Bux Taggar, Muhammad Ashraf Khan Mughal, Additional Advocate General Sindh Sawar Khan and Anwar Mansoor Khan, the lawyer for the Mirzas.
After an initial hearing, the bench held that the respondents (the Shahs) need to be heard and thus notices should be issued for an unspecified date.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.