The Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MNA Sumaira Malik for holding a fake degree. She has proven not to be a truthful person, the court judgment held on Monday, asking the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to proceed against her and not allow her to contest elections in future.
Malik had emerged victorious in the elections in constituency NA-69 Khushab in 2008.
The apex court said that Malik should be asked to reimburse all the expenditure incurred while she was in office. The decision was reserved by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on October 9 and was announced by the court on Monday. Malik’s sister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member Ayla Malik was also disqualified in July for the same reason.
“It is clear that in order to make herself qualified for contesting elections in the year 2002, she arranged for a Bachelor of Arts degree by way of impersonation to fulfil the requirements of Article 8-A of the Conduct of General Election Order, 2002. After having passed her Intermediate exam in the year 1981, it was not necessity for her to obtain a BA degree,” the judgment says.
The court further held that as a disqualified person she has no right to represent the electorate of the country and on account of such qualification, she would not be entitled to contest the election in future as well. Meanwhile, if she does contest elections and is declared successful, the election commission shall be bound to de-notify her win.
According to the defendant, the record does indicate that she actually took the BA examination herself. However, the complainant argues that in the absence of having her photographs on the application form, registration record, as well as the record of examination, someone else took the examination on her behalf and Sumaira Malik procured a bogus degree.
It was further argued that if there is any record with the university, it was falsely created under the direct and unlawful influence of her husband, Malik Tahir Sarfraz, who was then serving as Additional Secretary, Schools, and had attested her alleged admission form.
Earlier, a Punjab University committee had given a clean chit to Sumaira Malik, whereas, an Election Tribunal also relied on the committee’s findings. However, the case remained pending before the courts and finally landed in the Supreme Court, which resulted in her disqualification.
“A plain comparison of the signature on the ID Card bearing No 128-64-180716, handwritten samples and the signatures on the admission form clearly indicate that there is lot of difference....” the court observed in the judgment.
The court defended the delay in this case: “It has been noticed that in so many other identical cases pertaining to elections, timely decisions are not taken because, inter alia, election tribunals are ordinarily presided by learned Judges of the High Courts who remain unable to conclude matters expeditiously on account of their other judicial commitments.”
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) had received over a hundred degrees for verification belonging to legislators from the National Assembly as well as the provincial assemblies.
Official figures had revealed that around 50 MNAs and MPAs with alleged dubious or fake degrees belong to the ruling PML-N. It is followed by PTI, the party ruling in K-P, which has degrees of 24 MPAs and MNAs being challenged in the courts.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2013.