The Supreme Court Friday directed Axact Chief Executive Officer Shoaib Sheikh to submit a written reply in the fake degree case.
A division bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case. The chief justice had taken suo moto notice of the Axact fake degree scandal last month after international news reports said over 3,000 UK citizens had purchased fake degrees from Axact in 2013 and 2014.
The court also directed Shoaib Shaikh to submit a written guarantee that he would not leave the country.
During the course of proceedings, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Basheer Memon informed the bench that Axact was registered with the securities and exchange commission of Pakistan around July 2006 and it exports software.
He said Axact runs websites of 330 universities which do not even have campuses.
Memon said Axact is not affiliated with the said universities but it is possible to get a degree within an hour at the cost of around $ 5,000.
The court was informed that around 70 per cent of the company’s revenue comes from the said universities, while the software export company also has nine other business units.
Memon said the Axact has its own accreditation platform.
The chief justice asked how can they accredit universities ? Certain laws need to be followed for accreditation, he added.
Memon said only a webpage has been created by Axact for the purpose. He said company was doing business since 2006 and it remained till 2015.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar observed that if this is happening since 2006 until 2015, people have been defrauded.
The court was also informed that the accused were acquitted by the IHC at which the chief justice asked about the veracity of rumours about the judge in the case being paid for granting bails to the accused.
The court then ordered the Sindh High Court (SHC) and Islamabad High Court (IHC) to promptly decide on the pending cases regarding Axact.
The chief justice directed the SHC to constitute a bench to hear the case within a week and give the verdict within two weeks. Justice Gul Hassan was added to the already existing one-member bench of the IHC hearing the case, which was asked to give its decision within three weeks.
Expressing displeasure at the Peshawar High Court (PHC) registrar’s absence from court despite clear orders, the chief justice took a suo motu notice of the fake degree case in the PHC and ordered FIA to file an appeal in the case.
The court also directed the lower courts to suspend bails of the accused if they do not cooperate with the courts.
Bol Television’s former employees, who were also present in the court, said they have not been paid since 2015. “There are around 40 affected people in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, and many others across the country,” the employees said.
The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) also filed an application in the court through counsel Asma Jahamgir highlighting irregularities in Axact’s businesses and its linkages with Labbaik media house, which operates Bol.
Shoaib Shaikh was then issued a notice by the Supreme Court to submit his reply on the application by the PBA, while the channel’s former employees were also asked to submit an application.
“We will decide the case after looking at both sides,” the chief justice remarked, before adjourning the hearing for two weeks.