An election tribunal on Thursday passed a short order disqualifying a PML-Q MPA, Walayat Shah Khagga of PP 220 Sahiwal, from contesting elections and holding a seat owing to having an unrecognised bachelor’s degree.
Justice Azmat Saeed passed the order on a petition by Nazar Muhammad Fatyana, a defeated candidate from the constituency, challenging Khagga’s eligibility to contest elections and hold the seat.
Fatyana had challenged Khagga’s bachelor’s degree saying that he had obtained a BBA degree from Al Khair University’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir campus, which was not recognised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
The petitioner submitted that the respondent MPA was not eligible to hold the seat and should be declared disqualified for holding a fake degree and cheating the election commission and his voters.
During the proceedings, a local commissioner appointed by the LHC judge recorded statement of witnesses produced by the parties. Earlier, Justice Saeed had sought comments from the HEC that also supported the petitioner’s stance.
Justice Saeed, taking into account report of the local commission and the HEC comments, allowed the petitioner and declared the MPA disqualified. Khagga failed to defend his degree before the tribunal. A detailed order on the petition will likely be issued next week.
Khagga’s profile available at the Punjab Assembly’s website states that he graduated from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, in 2002 and later obtained a BBA degree from Al Khair University, Azad Kashmir, in 2003. He served as the union council chairman in 1979 and as a district councillor in 1986.
He was also an MPA from 1988 to 1990, from 1993 to 1996 and from 2002 to 2007. He was also appointed as the parliamentary secretary for agriculture. He returned to the Punjab Assembly for the fourth term in the 2008 general elections 2008 and has been the chairman of the standing committee on agriculture since then.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2011.