Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday took suo motu notice of the Axact fake degree scandal.
CJP Nisar announced the decision after taking notice of recent national and international news reports that said over 3,000 UK citizens had purchased fake degrees from Axact in 2013 and 2014. The recent news came just months after an in-depth investigation by Canada's national broadcaster uncovered that hundreds of people working in diverse fields across Canada possess bogus degrees issued by Axact.
The CJP said that no one who tarnishes Pakistan's name would be allowed to go scot-free. "Our heads are bowed in shame because of this scandal," he said.
CJP Nisar said that if the news was true, then one should be prepared to deal with the scandal, but if the news was incorrect, then it was Pakistan's job to defend itself as the scam is sullying the country's name in the global arena.
The CJP observed that the case had surfaced earlier and had been heard in various courts.
The director general of the Federal Investigation Agency was asked to submit a detailed report on the matter within 10 days.
Axact first came into the limelight in 2015 when a New York Times report titled "Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions" outlined how the "secretive Pakistani software company" had allegedly earned millions of dollars from scams involving fake degrees, non-existent online universities and manipulation of customers.
According to the report, Axact had created a series of fake websites involving “professors” and students who it said were in fact paid actors.
A fake degrees case against Axact was ongoing in the Sindh High Court. The last notable development was that Axact Chief Executive Officer Shoaib Sheikh and 13 co-accused were granted bail by the SHC in August 2016.
A district and sessions court hearing a money laundering case against Sheikh acquitted the Axact CEO not long after.
Umair Hamid, a vice president of Axact, was last year sentenced to 21 months in prison in the US for his role in the international diploma mill scheme. In addition to the prison term, Hamid, 31, from Karachi, was ordered to forfeit $5,303,020. He had pleaded guilty on April 6, 2017 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.