ISLAMABAD: A serving minister and three Punjab Assembly members, who allegedly possess fake degrees, have approached the Supreme Court to seek suspension of the Lahore High Court’s proceedings against them.
Sheikh Waqas Akram, state minister for human development, who was elected from NA-89 Jhang-IV on a ticket of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), and MPAs Mian Muhammad Azam Chella, Khawaja Muhammad Islam and Ghulam Nizamuddin asked the apex court to drop the hearings against them as the LHC has taken up the issue against the rules.
A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry issued notices to all stakeholders in the case, including the Higher Education Commission, the University of Punjab and relevant educational boards, to appear before the court on February 23 with complete records. The court observed that this issue has been lingering since February 2008 and will now be expeditiously decided on merit.
Akram’s election was challenged by a voter from his constituency Hafiz Khalid. The petitioner alleged that Akram’s FA and BA degrees were fake and as such, he could not contest the election. He pleaded that, on the basis of holding bogus degrees, Akram should be declared disqualified.
In Thursday’s hearing, the court was told that these members had obtained fake degrees and despite the lapse of four years, their degrees were still not verified. The CJ remarked that these members, including the minister, who are enjoying all perks and privileges should sit at home until the probe into the matter is complete.
While accepting Khalid’s petition for hearing, the LHC had sought complete academic record of the minister and the MPAs. An HEC official told The Express Tribune that the commission had already declared one of the MPAs’ degrees invalid and was verifying those of other MNAs and MPAs.
Akram and the MPAs maintained that only opponents, and not voters, can challenge their eligibility to contest elections. But in this case, voters have challenged their eligibility, thus the petitions against them are not maintainable under the constitution.
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