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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed the petition of a suspended judge who had asked the court to quash a show cause notice issued to him for acquitting the owners and directors of software company Axact.

Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Pervaizul Qadir Memon is facing an inquiry for acquitting Axact owner Shoaib A. Shaikh and others in multi-billion dollar fake degree scam case after accepting a bribe.

The judge’s counsel, Hafiz Arafat Chaudhry, had challenged the show cause notice issued to him by the IHC registrar.

On Monday, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq dismissed the petition, observing that the petitioner could not challenge the show cause notice at this stage. The bench, however, was of the view that if the judge felt aggrieved by an administrative order, there was an appropriate forum he could approach to file a formal representation.

The court then declared ADSJ Memon’s petition non-maintainable and dismissed it.

According to the petition, two members of the departmental promotion committee (DPC) had passed him over for a promotion he was expecting and had, instead, recommended his removal from service citing his judgement in the State Vs Shoaib Ahmad Shaikh case and others involving land grabbers.

The judge had argued that he had acquitted the owner of Axact as “the evidence brought on record by the prosecution could not have been made basis for the conviction of the accused persons involved in the case”. He added that during the trial, no one from the prosecution had cast aspersions on his conduct as presiding officer of the court.

The Axact scandal surfaced in May 2015 when The New York Times published a report claiming that the Axact had sold fake diplomas and degrees online through hundreds of fictitious schools, making “tens of millions of dollars annually”. ADSJ Memon, who was presiding over the trial of Axact owner Shoaib Shaikh, had acquitted him of the charge.

However, the federal government challenged the acquittal in the IHC, where the deputy attorney general informed the court that a senior executive of Axact had pleaded guilty before a US court.

He told the court that Umair Hamid, 30, had admitted to the char­ges before District Judge Ronnie Abrams, as reported on the website of the US Department of Justice. “Operating from Pakistan, Umair Hamid helped fraudulently rake in millions of dollars from unwitting American consumers who paid to enrol in, and get degrees from high schools and colleges that did not exist,” the report says.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2017