[sm1:1ki108uj][/sm1:1ki108uj]

The Election Commission on Friday wrote to the concerned returning officers to provide legible photocopies of the degrees of 141 members of parliament and provincial assemblies as demanded by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for verification of degrees. “We have written to the concerned returning officers to provide legible photocopies of theelected representatives’ degrees, as the HEC has found the previous copies unreadable,” said EC spokesman Muhammad Afzal Khan, when The News approached him on telephone for update on the burning issue of fake degrees. He pointed out that they had also written to returning officers to dispatch photocopies of degrees of 7-8 legislators, who apparently had not been able to submit these to the returning officers at the time of filing their nomination papers prior to the general election in 2008. The EC spokesman was hopeful that they would be in a position to provide better photocopies to the HEC within a week. “We have asked the returning officers to do the needful as early as possible,” he added. Afzal Khan said they had provided photocopies of as many as 1,100 lawmakers to the HEC, as already 70 had made their way to the legislatures in bye-elections after the condition of having a bachelor’s degree for contesting election was struck down. “It will be interesting to see how the returning officers ensure the provision of legible photocopies of the required number of lawmakers, as they will have to rely apparently on photocopies lying with them for over two years now,” the EC secretary maintained. About the Supreme Court’s order on Thursday to the EC to initiate action against legislators, who were accused of having used fake degrees to contest the election, he said they were geared up to follow the apex court order. The electoral body had taken the position that it could not disqualify an elected representative, on its own, on the basis of having a fake degree: the court would have to hold trials on this count and then issue a judgment in this connection. The EC had noted under an amendment to Article 62 of the Constitution, a person could not be disqualified for being corrupt unless a competent court declared him or her so. “Presently, 60-70 cases are under process in courts regarding fake degrees of the elected representatives. Obviously after the HEC scrutiny of degrees, the judiciary will make its judgments and the EC will act accordingly against those found guilty,” he contended.
By: The News