The Lahore High Court has disqualified Malik Iqbal Langrial of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid from the Punjab Assembly because his seminary degree was not recognised as equivalent to a bachelors degree.
Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh issued the disqualification order on similar petitions filed by Saifur Rehman of the PML-N and Jamshed Alam, Langrial’s rivals for his seat in Sahiwal, PP-226. The judge ordered a by-election to fill the seat.
The petitioners, who filed their pleas in 2008, submitted that Langrial had a ‘Sanadul Firagh’ (completion certificate) from Madrassa Al Quranul Arabia Baharul Uloom in Shikarpur, Sindh, and a ‘Shahadatul Alamia’ (certificate of proficiency) from Jamia Talimatul Islamia, Rawalpindi. They said these seminaries were not affiliated with the Wafaqul Madaris, nor recognised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
They said that in 2002, the HEC had issued a list of seminaries whose degrees it recognised, and the two seminaries that Langrial had certificates from were not on that list. Thus, Langrial should not have been allowed to stand for the elections, since having a bachelors or equivalent degree was a requirement for candidates at the time.
Advocate Tipu Salman Makhdoom, counsel for Langrial, submitted that Jamia Talimatul Islamia, Sargodha Road, Faisalabad was on the HEC list and the seminary in Rawalpindi that Langrial attended had been affiliated to it since 1971. He said that students of the Rawalpindi madrassa were issued the same degrees as the students of the Faisalabad madrassa, so his client’s education qualifications were in fact recognised by the HEC.
After both sides completed their arguments, the judge reserved his verdict. An hour later, he announced that he was accepting the petitions and declared Langrial to be disqualified from the Punjab Assembly.
These petitions were earlier being heard by former LHC Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, who is now on the Supreme Court. At a previous hearing, a commission set up to record evidence in the case had complained that Langrial was not giving his testimony. Justice Nasir Sheikh had warned that Langrial’s assembly membership could be suspended if he did not record his statement with the commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2012.