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Former law minister and constitutional expert Sher Afgan Niazi has said a member of parliament having a fake degree not only faces disqualification but is also liable to be tried for committing high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution, awarded 80 lashes under the Islamic law for lying, and proceeded against under sections 420, 467 and 471 of the Pakistan Penal Code for defrauding the people.

Afgan told The News that the latest Supreme Court judgment on the issue of fake degrees, provided for punishment for three years, which in his opinion is the least and the most lenient view of the apex court. “The fake degree holders have also broken the oath of the Constitution as given in its Third Schedule,” he said, adding that while taking the oath of his membership, a MP commits that he would perform his functions honestly to the best of his ability, faithfully in accordance with the Constitution, law and the rules of the assembly.

He also commits that he would preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. “Getting into parliament on the basis of a fake degree is a clear violation of the constitutional oath which amounts to a criminal offence and can be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution,” he said, arguing that the chief minister Balochistan has also violated his oath as member of the provincial assembly as well as the chief minister while ridiculing the Constitution and the law.

Under the Hadood laws, he said such offenders are liable to be punished under Qadaf Had because of their being non-truthful or being liar. A liar is awarded 80 lashes under the Hadood Laws, Afgan explained.

A parliamentarian with fake degree, he said, also proves that he is neither sagacious and righteous nor honest and Ameen as is the requirement of Article 62(f) of the Constitution dealing with the qualifications of the members of parliament.

He said under the election laws, the nomination forms are signed by the proposer, seconder and the candidate on solemn affirmation and with the declaration that the candidate fulfils the qualification specified in Article 62 and is not subject to any of the disqualification as specified in Article 63 and any other law enforced for being elected as member of parliament.

The nomination papers, he said, are personally submitted by the candidate to the returning officer and once these papers are submitted they become a public document. Since the nomination papers of a candidate become property of the public, therefore, he explained, any mis-declaration becomes violation of PPC sections 420, 467 and 471, which deals with cheating, breach of trust and forgery in the official documents. “It also violates PPC 406 that talks of breach of trust,” Afgan said.

Referring to the Representation of People’s Act of 1996 and the rules made thereunder, he said the nomination papers also include a declaration and oath by the person nominated (candidate), who commits that he fulfills the qualifications specified in the Article 62 of the Constitution and is not subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 63 of the Constitution or any other law for the time being enforced for being elected as member of the National Assembly/provincial assembly.

Referring to the Chapter IX of the Representation of People’s Act 1976, he said a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of an assembly if he is not a graduate from an institution recognised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). In Sher Afgan’s view, the holders of fake degree deserve much serious punishment as compare to the one suggested by the apex court in its recent judgment.