ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: The Islamabad High Court on Thursday removed additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) Pervaizul Qadir Memon from service for acquitting Shoaib Sheikh, the chief executive officer of Axact, in a fake degree case.

The Axact case came into spotlight in May 2015 when The New York Times published a report claiming that the company had sold fake diplomas and degrees online through hundreds of fictitious schools.

Also on Thursday, the Sindh High Court expressed displeasure over the absence of Mr Sheikh during the hearing of the money laundering case and directed his lawyer to submit Mr Sheikh’s medical certificate when the court was told that he was ill.

The allegation that ADSJ Memon had acquitted the Axact chief after taking bribe surfaced when the former challenged in the IHC a Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) decision not to promote him to the post of district and sessions judge in the IHC. When Mr Memon filed a representation against the DPC, the IHC registrar issued him a show-cause notice asking him to explain the acquittal of the owners and directors of Axact as well as acquittals in land grabbing cases.

Mr Memon was suspended by the IHC on June 7, 2017 on the charge of receiving bribe in the Axact case.

On the basis of the DPC’s observations, first an office order and later a show-cause notice had been issued to Mr Memon on June 9 which he challenged before the IHC, calling these illegal and unlawful.

The show-cause notice bearing the signature of the IHC chief justice stated that the ADSJ had acquitted the accused in the Axact fake degrees case after taking bribe.

According to the show-cause notice, ADSJ Memon had confessed before Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani of the DPC that he had acquitted the accused after taking bribe. On this, the members of the committee had recommended his removal as ADSJ.

In Karachi, at the outset of the hearing of the money laundering case, Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto asked his counsel why Mr Sheikh had failed to appear before the court despite being issued a notice. Expressing displeasure over the absence of the Axact chief, the court directed his counsel to submit his medical certificate if he was sick.

Headed by Justice Phulpoto, a two-judge bench was hearing an appeal filed by the FIA against the acquittal of the Axact CEO in the case pertaining to illegal transfer of Rs170.17 million to a Dubai-based firm, Chanda Exchange Company.

The FIA had filed the appeal against the acquittal of Mr Sheikh in the money laundering case in 2016, arguing that he was exonerated from charges by the trial court despite strong evidence that proved the Axact chief’s involvement in money laundering.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2018

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