PESHAWAR, Jan 16: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday stopped the provincial capital’s district and sessions judge from pronouncing judgment in the fake degree case against provincial sports minister Aqil Shah until the relevant court decided his petition against the private educational institution that awarded him the graduation degree.The minister is accused of being involved in corrupt practices by producing fake degree for taking part in the 2008 elections.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser directed sessions judge Shaibar Khan to continue with the trial but not to pronounce the verdict for three months.
At the same time, it also decided to formally request the Lahore High Court chief justice to direct the relevant senior civil judge for giving a verdict in three months on the minister’s lawsuit against American International College, Lahore, which had awarded him graduation degree despite being unrecognised by Higher Education Commission.
The bench issued the order while hearing a petition of Mr Aqil, who pleaded that he had already filed a civil suit with the civil judge in Lahore against the educational institution and until decision in that suit, the district and sessions judge might be restrained from continuing with the trial.
The district and sessions judge had indicted Mr Aqil on Nov 1 on a complaint of the regional election commissioner (REC), who requested the court that a case of the commission of corrupt practice had prima facie been made out against Mr Aqil and therefore, action might be taken against him in accordance with law.
Mr Shah had pleaded not guilty and claimed that he had submitted only one degree issued by American International College, Lahore with his nomination papers and had never submitted any other degree or documents.
He added that he had instituted a civil suit against American International College, Lahore that had been pending with the court of the senior civil judge, Lahore.
If convicted, the minister could be sentenced up to three years imprisonment.
Abdul Lateef Afridi, lawyer for the petitioner, said the civil suit pending with the Lahore civil judge was of importance and unless that was decided the trial in Peshawar might be stopped and that the two cases could not continue simultaneously.
He added that the educational institution had committed fraud by not disclosing to his client that it was not a recognised one.
The chief justice asked the lawyer how one of the proceedings could be stayed when the cases were pending with the different forums and were of different nature.
Mr Afridi cited some judgments of the superior courts in support of his contention, saying it was a settled principle that the civil proceedings should continue first.
However, the bench decided to allow the district judge to continue with the trial but not to pronounce the verdict for three months.