Aqil Shah degree case: PHC orders completion of trial by tomorrow

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The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the Peshawar district and sessions judge to conclude trial until tomorrow (Thursday) in a complaint against former provincial minister Syed Aqil Shah about submission of a fake graduation degree for participating in the 2008 elections.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Abdul Lateef Khan modified its earlier order of Jan 16, which stopped the district and sessions judge from pronouncing judgment after completion of trial.

In that order, delivered in a writ petition filed by Mr Shah, the district judge was ordered to continue with the trial but not to pronounce the verdict for three months.

Furthermore, the court had decided to send a request to the chief justice of Lahore High Court to direct the concern senior civil judge for concluding within three months, a civil suit filed by Mr Aqil Shah against a private educational institution which had awarded him graduation degree but the institution was not recognised by the Higher Education Commission.

When the bench took up for hearing the case on Tuesday, Abdul Lateef Afridi, lawyer for Mr Shah, contended that the court had disposed of the writ petition on Jan 16 and he didn’t know how the said petition was fixed again for hearing.

The chief justice said the Supreme Court of Pakistan on March 26 directed all courts to decide cases related to graduation degrees of lawmakers until April 4.

He observed that in light of the order of the Supreme Court, the high court had fixed the said writ petition to modify its earlier order.

Senior legal adviser of Election Commission of Pakistan Abdur Rehman Khan contended that the high court had restrained the district judge for three months and that period would lapse on April 15, which was beyond the time stipulated by the apex court. The district and sessions judge, Shaibar Khan, had indicted Mr Aqil Shah on Nov 1 over a complaint filed by the regional election commissioner (REC) who requested the court that as a case of commission of corrupt practice has, prima facie, been made out against Mr Shah and therefore, action might be taken against him in accordance with law.

Mr Shah had pleaded not guilty to the charge and claimed that he had submitted only one degree with his election papers issued by the American International College Lahore (AICL) and had never submitted any other degree or documents.

He added that he had instituted a civil suit against the American International College Lahore which has been pending before the court of senior civil judge, Lahore.

If convicted the minister could be sentenced up to three years imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the district and sessions judge continued with the trial of Mr Shah and recorded evidence of the principal of AICL, Dr Zahoor Ahmad.The court has now completed evidence of all witnesses of the complainant and defence and fixed the hearing to Wednesday.

The REC, in the complaint, said the bachelor’s degree of the accused issued by the University of Punjab on Oct 15, 2002, was found by HEC to be fake on Aug 5, 2010.