Judge Behind Axact Owner’s Acquittal Facing Inquiry

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A serving judge of Islamabad’s sessions court is facing an inquiry for acquitting the owners and directors of Axact — the software company accused of running a multibillion-dollar fake degree scam. The judge is also accused of handing undue benefits to land grabbers.

On Thursday, Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Pervaizul Qadir Memon filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and denied these allegations against him, terming them false and baseless.

The IHC told ADSJ Memon that it had learned that: “he is reportedly involved in corrupt practice in the case of Axact [which was] decided by him and also in some other matters related to land grabbers. These issues require further consideration.”

ADSJ Memon learned about the allegations while he was gearing to challenge a departmental promotion committee’s (DPC) decision not to promote him to district and sessions judge. When he 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 in cases pertaining to land grabbers.

His counsel Advocate Arfat Chaudhry contended that: “the petitioner calls in question an illegal and unwarranted office order… and a show cause notice whereby the respondents (IHC registrar), while raising serious allegations against the petitioner has directed him to show cause in writing within 14 days as to why the major penalty of removal from service may not be imposed upon him.”

Quoting the office order, the petition said since two members of the DPC had recommended removal from service, the IHC chief justice had decided to dispense with the inquiry proceedings. The petition added that the aforementioned show cause notice had been issued in violation of several provisions of the Constitution.

He shared the reasoning behind his October 31, 2016 judgement in the State Vs Shoaib Ahmad Shaikh case, registered under Sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 473, 109, 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and Section 4 of the Anti Money Laundering Act, 2010. “Based on the quality of evidence, the accused persons involved in the said case were acquitted through the said judgement. It is very important to add here that the acquittal was not the result of summary proceedings as there was a full-fledged trial of the accused persons. The judgement was announced after exhaustive trial proceedings. The evidence brought on record by the prosecution could not have been made basis for the conviction of the accused persons involved in the case.”

According to the petition, during trial of the case, no one from the prosecution had raised allegations with regard to the judge’s conduct as presiding officer of the court, rather they had reposed full confidence in the court. The petition added that the DPC comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and IHC registrar Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan had met in April. It said that ADSJ Memon was shocked to learn he had been passed over for promotion while two junior judicial officers had been promoted.

“I was about to move a departmental representation against the non consideration but I received an explanation from the IHC registrar,” the judge added.

He said he had received a letter from the office of the IHC registrar on May 8, disclosing the reason why he was not considered for promotion. The letter mentioned that during a meeting of the DPC, one of the members had passed negative observations regarding the conduct of ADSJ Memon. He was asked to submit his comments within five days of receiving the letter. He then received a call from the IHC registrar telling him to appear in person before the DPC, comprising two judges of the IHC, on May 24.

The judge said he had appeared before the committee and declared his innocence. He told the committee members that he had presided over thousands of cases, including some very high profile ones, and during his career, there had not been a single complaint filed against him.

He added that being a chronic patient of ischemic heart disease, he had fallen ill and was brought to the Emergency Ward of PIMS Hospital on May 28. He filed an application on June 6 requesting 30 days medical leave which had not been granted to him as yet. Instead, the petitioner was suspended on June 7. The ADSJ requested the court to set aside the orders issued to him by the registrar’s office.

A single-member bench of the IHC will hear the petition on Friday.

Credit: Dawn

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