A three member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday resumed hearing of the suo motu case pertaining to 189 fake degree holders. The bench said it will be the last chance for the verification of degrees. The court also ordered the election commission to sent the information of the fake degree holders to the returning officers.
The court in its order said that those who submitted wrong information during last elections will be considered disqualified.
The Court ordered for taking action under Representation of the Peoples Act against those parliamentarians having fake degrees.
During proceedings, the Election Commission Secretary presented the report regarding the fake degrees.
According to the report, parliamentarians were repeatedly told to have their degrees verified and a letter dated February 7, 2013 stated that if lawmakers failed to have their degrees verified, they would be declared fake.
Meanwhile, Chairman HEC informed the apex court that the process of verifying degrees had been underway since 2010. He said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had sent photo copies of 60-70 percent of parliamentarians’ degrees for verification.
According to the HEC chairman, the documents of 189 parliamentarians were still incomplete and the Election Commission failed to take action despite 54 lawmakers having fake degrees.
Chief Justice remarked that action should be taken against the 54 parliamentarians with fake degrees.
Chief Justice stressed the importance of the upcoming elections and everyone including the judiciary wanted them conducted in a transparent manner.
During the hearing, the chief justice said that the degrees of 54 parliamentarians were declared as fake whereas 189 lawmakers had failed to submit their matric and intermediate certificates since the past two and a half years.
Chief Justice said that according to the Constitution of Pakistan members of parliament could face criminal prosecution for intentionally submitting false statements and that the submission of fake degrees by lawmakers was in violation of Article 62 of the constitution.
Chief Justice further said that degrees should be issued from approved institutes and that the matter of degrees should be like an open book.
Secretary of the Election Commission Ishtiaq Ahmed informed the court that HEC had informed the commission in writing about 69 cases of fake degrees held by lawmakers and that the cases were forwarded to the relevant courts for criminal proceedings.
Ishtiaq Ahmed further said that FIRs were lodged against 21 lawmakers who held fake degrees and that the names of lawmakers holding fake degrees were uploaded on the election commission website, along with the list of the former parliamentarians disqualified under Article 63 (1) (c) of the Constitution and lawmakers who had not declared their details regarding dual citizenship.
The court directed the ECP not to accept the nomination papers of the 189 lawmakers for the upcoming elections until the matter of their respective degrees was not resolved.
The Chief Justice directed the ECP to conduct merciless scrutiny of nomination papers, adding that strict action should be taken against lawmakers who fail to get their degrees verified within the given period.
During the course of proceedings, the chief justice remarked that lawmakers holding fake degrees are ineligible to contest elections.
The court further said that the candidates once disqualified for falsehood would remain disqualified for ever.
The bench adjourned the next hearing over the case until April 8 and directed the election commission to send a notice to the 189 lawmakers, as a last chance, giving them time until April 5 to submit their educational certificates for verification, failing which they would declared as disqualified.