ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif couldn't accord approval to a request of Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) regarding registration of an FIR against the son of former prime minister and the then top management of Punjab University, including one of its former vice chancellors s, over the issue of fake degree even after the passage of more than two years, The News has learnt.
The ACE after completing the probe in December 2015 had written to the chief minister to get 'mandatory' permission for registering the FIR against the ex-premier's son for forgery, fraud and impersonation while obtaining his BA degree, the ex-VC, former controller examination, and others for validating and issuing the fake degree to him in 2010.
When contacted, Punjab government spokesperson Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan said ACE did not need any approval for taking action against any accused person.
"The Punjab CM firmly believes in rooting out corruption of all forms. He is the first chief executive of Punjab who had presented himself for accountability", the spokesman said, adding, the ACE was fully empowered body and could take action against any accused on the basis of solid evidence.
The spokesperson, however, didn't comment when his attention was drawn towards Section (3) of the sub-rule (4) of the ACE Rules 2014 which clearly states, "No case shall be registered against a District Coordination Officer of a District Government, a Commissioner of a Division, a Secretary to the Government, a Head of an Attached Department, and any other officer of BPS-20 and above without prior permission in writing of the Chief Minister but in case any of those officers is in BPS-19, such permission may be accorded by the Chief Secretary."
Talking to The News, ACE DG Brig (retd) Muzaffar Ali Ranjha said they would act on the matter as per the chief minister's directions.
The News also tried to get comments from Additional Chief Secretary Omar Rasul but he chose not to respond.
A senior ACE official, seeking anonymity, told The News that the chief minister hadn't responded back as yet regarding their request for registering the FIR and they were still waiting for further directions.
To a question, the official said they could not send a reminder to the chief minister about a pending issue.
It may be relevant to mention that the ex-PM's son had appeared in the PU annual exam under Roll No 94281 in 2005 and an Unfair Means Case (UMC) was registered against him by a three-member Disciplinary Committee headed by Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal. It not only debarred him from appearing in BA examination but his result card was also quashed.
In 2008, the VC formed another committee called 'super committee' which exonerated the ex-PM's son who was awarded the degree.
Initially, the case of fake degree landed in FIA on the Supreme Court's directives, but citing jurisdiction issues, it transferred the case to the ACE Punjab for further probe.
The inquiry committee of the ACE had observed in the report that the misuse of authority, concealing facts and helping in fraud were also proved against an associate professor of Govt MAO College Lahore (the then senior superintendent Examination Centre, BA Annual Examination 2005), and a lecturer at Govt Degree College Peoples Colony Gujranwala (the then additional centre superintendent Examination Centre) and recommended registration of a case against them.
According to the 22-page final report prepared in December 2015, the then VC, and ex-Controller/Member Special Disciplinary were also found guilty of extending unlawful favour to the accused for getting his degree validated by misusing their authority.
According to the inquiry report, as negligence and inefficiency on the part of members of Independent Discipline Committee (IDC) including the then dean Islamic Studies, the then principal College of Engineering and Technology, the then principal College of Arts and Design, the then registrar and chairman Botany Department, and a retired professor was also proved and actions was recommended against them under relevant departmental rules.
Highlighting the role of PU administration under former VC, the inquiry committee had observed that when the former PM's son approached the VC on October 30, 2010 for validation of his BA degree, he should have not entertained his application being time barred as his application was maintainable only within 30 days of the receipt of the decision of UMC.
However, the committee observed, the applicant approached the VC against the decision of UMC after over three years. The VC, it observed, went beyond his authority by violating the relevant law when he entertained the time barred appeal.
The committee had further observed that the appeal should have been entertained by the same disciplinary committee which had given its verdict against him but in the instant case, the VC instead of referring the case to the original committee, constituted the IDC which set aside the quashment of Gilani's result card within four working days by deciding the case in his favour.
Although the accused never appeared before the IDC to plead his case yet t he was given this undue favour, the committee wrote. "The original UMC took around 14 months to decide the case but the IDC constituted by the VC took only four days to set-aside the decision only to provide relief to the son of former PM."
The committee, moreover, observed it was proved that the ex-PM's son had obtained his degree fraudulently but the VC got his degree validated from the Syndicate in its 1706th meeting. The committee found that as the then controller examination didn't forward the case against the senior superintendent and deputy superintendent of the Examination Centre due to which he was found guilty of criminal negligence, misconduct and misuse of authority to protect the ex-PM's son.
The inquiry committee also highlighted the role of IDC members saying it decided the instant matter within four days by holding one meeting only and they clearly mentioned in their statements that they gave the decision in favour of the ex-PM's son under the pressure of the then controller examination as he produced before them the decision for signatures.
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