www.alrasub.com – Pakistan

The Election Commission of Pakistan has reopened fake degree cases against a few lawmakers, an ECP member told on Wednesday.

He said two members of the Punjab Assembly, Shumaila Rana and Shabina Khan, had been given clean chits on Jan 15, 2011 by then chief election commissioner Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza at a time when the commission was incomplete and its mandatory four members were not appointed.

He said that resignations tendered by the two women lawmakers had been made the basis for the closure of cases against them. He, however, said that if lawmakers became lawbreakers, they could not be absolved merely on the basis of their resignation as the guilt remained there even after that.

The member said the commission had also summoned MNA Jamshed Dasti on March 13 in a similar case. In March 2010, a six-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry gave Mr Dasti two options: either he should resign or be ready to be disqualified for holding a fake degree.

Mr Dasti opted to resign. But he was back in the assembly soon by winning a bye-election.

The Election Commission of Pakistan in a recent meeting had observed that many cases relating to fake degrees were still pending in courts notwithstanding the fact that the Supreme Court had directed disposing such cases preferably within three months.

The commission ordered provincial election commissioners to file requests in the courts concerned for early hearing and disposal of cases in the light of the Supreme Court’s directive in the Rizwan Gill’s case.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had referred cases against 32 fake degree-holding lawmakers to session courts, but no conviction has taken place despite the lapse of about two years. Only one member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has been arrested, apparently because he was an independent member but he too managed to secure his release on bail.

Responding to criticism against the ECP on the issue of fake degrees, the member said a baseless diatribe was unfortunate at a time when the nation was gearing up to change the fate of the country by ushering in an era of clean and meaningful democracy through a strong and powerful election commission. He said the elements behind such propaganda had no comprehension of the procedure for dealing with fake degree cases. “Having failed to understand subtleties of law, they want the commission to assume the role of a hangman and put the noose around the neck of parliamentarians.”

The member said the procedure adopted in referring cases for trial in which prima facie fraud and cheating was involved, was in
line with the dictum of the apex court.

“What can the ECP do if a sessions judge does not decide the case despite the time provided to him under the law to do the job? The ECP has no jurisdiction, competence or authority to meddle in the work of a court. The ECP has sent cases for trial where prima facie a case of corrupt practice is made out,” he remarked.

He said a misnomer was ingrained in the minds of certain elements who believed that the ECP could suspend lawmakers from doing their duties or could disqualify them.

“Yes disqualification can be resorted to by the ECP, but only after the lawmaker is convicted and penalised by a competent court of law.”

He said most lawmakers in the list of 32 had been declared prima facie guilty and their cases were pending before courts.

Answering a question, he said that Balochistan Assembly member Yar Mohammad Rind had been recently acquitted by the Supreme Court and his case remitted for fresh decision to the Balochistan High Court, which had earlier convicted him in absentia.

“How can the ECP proceed against Mr Rind when the question of his culpability is still sub judice?” – Dawn.com