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National

March 14, 2018

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Axact scandal: IHC summons Shoaib Shaikh for March 20

ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad High Court (IHC) division bench Tuesday directed fake degree scandal main accused Shoaib Shaikh to either appear in person before the court on March 20 or file a representation through his counsel.

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A legal counsel for other Axact scandal accused persons, Raja Rizwan Abbasi Advocate told the court that he was not representing Shoaib Shaikh but some other accused in the same case. The court asked where Shoaib Shaikh was at that moment. Abbasi said he was in Landhi jail Karachi under judicial custody.

The IHC bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to serve Shaikh with notices through Landhi jail superintendent and put off the hearing.

The IHC bench was hearing an appeal of the FIA against acquittal of the Axact officials. An additional sessions judge, Pervezul Qadir Memon, on Oct 31, 2016, had acquitted the officials of fake degree scandal and later the judge, on Feb 15, 2018, was sacked due to his admission of receiving Rs5 million bribe for acquitting the accused.

DAG Raja Khalid Mehmood, representing the federal government, submitted before the court that the judge, who had acquitted 27 Axact officials, had been sacked due to his admission of receiving bribe and, therefore, the fake degree scandal needed to be tried afresh under the law.

The DAG cited Supreme Court judgments while saying that the apex court had ruled that in such circumstances, where adjudication of a matter was not done as per law, it needed to be tried afresh. In the current appeal, the FIA through its deputy director Cyber Crime Circle in February, 2017, had contended against the acquittal of 27 officials of the Axact company. Petitioner FIA had nominated Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Axact Shoaib Shaikh, his wife Ayesha Shoaib and 25 others as respondents.

The FIA, in its appeal under Section 417 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against the additional sessions judge Islamabad Pervezul Qadir Memon’s judgment through which all the 27 persons were acquitted, maintained that the judgment was a result of misreading. An FIR was lodged against all the respondents on June 7, 2015 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 473, 109/34 and Section 4 of Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.

The petitioner FIA said that an enquiry dated May 19, 2015 was registered against the respondent M/s Axact Ltd Islamabad region for preparing and selling degrees of fake online educational institutions with fake accreditation bodies, enticing innocent people through impersonation as student councillors within Pakistan and abroad.

Consequently a raid was conducted on Axact’s DHA office. According to the petitioner, during on-the-spot interview regional head Col (retd) Jameel Ahmad, Lt-Col (retd) M Younis and other officials of M/s Axact could not provide plausible justification regarding their online fast track prior learning assessment (PLA) education operation. Statements of the some of the employees clearly showed that their sale agents were impersonating as highly qualified student councillors of the fraudulent, non-existent, fictitious educational institutes, pretending to be in the USA as they used UAN numbers of the United States of America and persuaded the prospective student to deposit huge amounts of money in the offshore accounts, operated by Axact in lieu with online degrees/certificates/diplomas and the attestation/legalization from different government bodies.

The petitioner contended that additional sessions judge, upon concluding the case, acquitted all 27 persons, which was against the law and facts. Prosecution had proved its case beyond any doubt and the evidence was sufficient to prove the respondents as guilty. Petitioner prayed to the court to set aside the additional sessions judge’s orders and convicted the respondents as per law.

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