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MPs holding invalid degrees can't be disqualified, rules SC

18 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani said on Tuesday that no parliamentarian could be disqualified on the basis of holding an invalid or a non-equivalent educational degree.

A three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench, headed by the CJP, heard a petition by Maulvi Agha Muhammad, a JUI-F MNA elected from NA-261, against the Pishin returning officer.

According to the court, having a BA "non-equivalent degree" is not a criminal act.

The court also observed that there is a difference between a fake and an invalid degree and no parliamentarian could therefore be disqualified on the basis of possessing an invalid or non-equivalent educational degree.

The bench thus allowed Maulvi Agha Muhammad to take oath as MNA. Earlier on May 31, the SC had stopped the JUI-F leader from taking oath.

The court on Tuesday also referred the case to the Election Tribunal for early disposal. It further observed that the tribunal was the right forum to decide matters related to elections.

The returning officer concerned had rejected Maulvi Agha Muhammad's nomination paper for Pishin NA-261, who had then approached the SC, which allowed the petitioner to contest elections conditionally.

On May 31, when a three-member SC bench, headed by former CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard this case, Maulvi Agha Muhammad's opponent Essa Roshan also filed a petition praying to become a party in the case. Essa Roshan made a plea that Maulvi Agha Muhammad's seminary degree was not equivalent to BA.

The court, issuing notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan and Maulvi Agha Muhammad, had directed that the JUI-F leader should not take oath until the case was decided.

Chaudhry Ikram, the counsel for applicant, requested the bench to maintain its stay order regarding taking oath. The court, however, rejected his plea.

End.

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