Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday directed the registrar’s office to combine all petitions seeking disqualification of parliamentarians accused of possessing fake degrees.
Bandial asked amicus curie (friend of court) Azhar Siddique to assist the court on whether or not the court might ask the parliament to legislate for direct disqualification of fake degree-holding parliamentarians after registration of criminal cases against them.
The court was hearing a petition seeking disqualification of PML-N MNA Rao Mazhar Hayat Khan whose degree has been shown to be a fake. An FIR has been registered against him. Arshad Ibrahim, a resident of Kot Radha Kishan, had filed the petition. As proceedings started on Tuesday, the counsel for another MNA Azam Nazir Tarar, who is also facing a fake degree trial, argued that the Constitution gave no power to the Election Commission of Pakistan to disqualify somebody for having a fake degree.
Ibrahim’s counsel said the ECP was empowered under Article 100 of the Constitution to de-notify such parliamentarians.
Siddique told the court that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had clearly held in the dual nationality case that parliamentarians, who filed false declarations at the time of filing nomination papers, stood disqualified and the ECP was only required to de-notify them. He said such parliamentarians were not sagacious, righteous and honest as required under Article 62(1)(f) and Article 63(1)(p). Therefore, no further proceedings were required against them and the ECP could de-notify them in the light of SC’s order.
Bandial directed the LHC registrar to combine all petitions pending against parliamentarians facing criminal charges for possessing fake graduation degrees.
Ibrahim said that on ECP directions, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had sent Khan’s graduation degree to the university concerned in the US and the university did not verify it. The Kasur district and sessions judge ordered a criminal case and the B-division police lodged an FIR against Khan on the complaint of the regional election commissioner, Lahore.
He prayed that Khan be restrained from acting as MNA and the ECP be directed to cancel his notification.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2012.