ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday issued notices to Axact chief executive officer Shoaib Sheikh and others on an appeal of the Federal Investigation Agency against the acquittal of Axact officials in the fake degree case.

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb issued notices to the Axact officials and decided to take up the case on a day-to-day basis from February 22 in line with the Supreme Court directions, which has taken a suo moto notice in this connection.

During the hearing, an Axact counsel raised the objection that the FIA has appointed a special public prosecutor in the matter that was against the law. At this, Justice Minallah said that “the court would hear your objection while hearing the matter”. The bench observed that it will decide the matter on merit.

In the present appeal, the FIA through its Deputy Director Cyber Crime Circle has challenged the acquittal of 27 Axact officials. The FIA has nominated Director/CEO Axact Shoaib Sheikh, his wife Ayesha Shoaib and 25 others as respondents.

The FIA has filed the appeal under section 417 Criminal Procedure Code against Additional Sessions judge Islamabad Pervaizul Qadir Memon’s judgment through which all 27 accused persons were acquitted, maintaining that the judgment was a result of a misreading.

An FIR was lodged against all the respondents on June 7, 2015, under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 473, 109/34 and section 4 of Anti-money-laundering Act 2010.

The FIA said that an inquiry on May 19, 2015, was registered against the respondent M/s Axact Ltd Islamabad region for preparing and selling degrees of fake online educational institutions with fake accreditation bodies, enticing innocent people through impersonation as student councilors within Pakistan and abroad.

Consequently, a raid was conducted on Axact’s DHA office, and during on the spot interview of regional head Col (retd) Jameel Ahmad, Lt Col (retd) M Younis and other officials of M/S Axact, they could not provide plausible justification regarding their online fast track prior learning assessment (PLA) education operation.

According to the FIA, statements of the some of the employees clearly showed that their sale agents were impersonating as highly qualified student councilors of the fraudulent, non-existent, fictitious educational institutes, pretending being in the US as they used UAN numbers of the US and persuaded the prospective students to deposit huge amounts of money in the offshore accounts operated by Axact in lieu with online degrees/certificates/diplomas and the attestation/legalization from different government bodies.

The FIA has maintained that the additional sessions judge upon concluding the case acquitted all the 27 persons that was against the law and facts.

It has argued that the impugned judgment was based on misreading and non-reading of the available evidence. The FIA said that the prosecution had proved its case beyond any doubt and the evidence was sufficient to prove the respondents as guilty. The additional sessions judge gave the benefit of doubt to the respondents that was against the dictum laid down by the superior courts.

The FIA has prayed to the court to set aside the additional sessions judge’s order and the respondents may be convicted as per the law.