Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court yesterday issued notices to Shoaib Sheikh , the main accused in the Axact scandal, directing him to either appear in person before the court or file representation through his counsel.

A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miagul Hassan Auranzeb conducted hearing of the Federal Investigation Agency appeal against acquittal of Axact officials and directed FIA to serve Sheikh with notices through Landhi jail superintendent and adjourned hearing in this matter.

During the hearing, a counsel for another person accused in the ‘Axact’ scandal, Raja Rizwan Abbasi Advocate informed the court that he is not representing Shoaib Sheikh but is counsel to another accused.

Upon inquiring about Shoaib Shaikh’s whereabouts, Abbasi told the court that he is in Landhi jail, Karachi under judicial custody. The dual bench then directed FIA to serve Sheikh with notices through Landhi jail superintendent.

On October 31, 2016, an additional session judge Pervezul Qadir Memon had acquitted the officials from the fake degree scandal. The judge was sacked later, on February 15, 2018 due to his admission of receiving five million rupees bribe for acquitting the accused persons.

A deputy attorney general (DAG) Raja Khalid Mehmood representing the federal government submitted before the court that the judge who acquitted 27 ‘Axact’ officials has been sacked and therefore the money laundering case needs to be tried afresh under the law.

The DAG mentioned Supreme Court judgments while saying that the apex court has ruled that in such circumstances where adjudication of a matter is not done as per law, it needs to be tried afresh. In the present appeal, FIA through its deputy director Cyber Crime Circle in February, 2017 had challenged the acquittal of 27 officials of the Axact Company. Petitioner FIA cited Director/Chief Executive Officer (Axact Shoaib Sheikh, his wife Ayesha Shoaib and 25 others as respondents.

FIA in its appeal under section 417 Criminal Procedure Code against the additional session judge Islamabad Pervaizul Qadir Memon’s judgment through which all the 27 persons were acquitted maintained that the judgment was a result of 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.

Petitioner FIA said that an enquiry dated 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, while impersonating as student councillors in Pakistan and abroad.

Consequently, a raid was conducted on Axact’s DHA office. According to the petitioner, during the interview regional head Col (retd) Jameel Ahmad, Lt Col (retd) M Younis and other officials of M/S Axact could not provide plausible justification regarding their online fast track prior learning assessment (PLA) education operation. Statements of the some of the employees clearly showed that their sale agents were impersonating as qualified student councillors of the fraudulent, non-existent, fictitious educational institutes, using UAN numbers of the United States of America. They persuaded the prospective students to deposit huge amounts of money in the off-shore accounts operated by Axact in lieu with online degrees/certificates/diplomas and the attestation/legalization from different government bodies.

FIA argued that additional session judge upon concluding the case acquitted all the 27 persons involved in the scam despite evidence against them. Therefore, it prayed to the court to set aside the additional session judge orders and respondents be convicted as per law.