ISLAMABAD - Hearing an election petition, the Supreme Court Tuesday declared that no parliamentarian could be disqualified on the basis of holding invalid or non-equivalent educational degree.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, hearing a petition of Maulvi Agha Muhammad from NA-261 against the returning officer of Pishin, said holding a degree not equivalent to BA was not a criminal act. Justice Amir Hani Muslim remarked that there was a difference between a fake and an invalid degree.

The bench allowed the elected MNA of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Maulvi Agha Muhammad, to take oath. The bench remanded the case to the election tribunal for early disposal without getting influenced by the SC’s proceedings. It further observed that the election tribunal was the right forum to decide the matters related to election matters.

It is to be noted Maulvi Agha Muhammad, after rejection of his nomination papers for NA-261, Pishin, by the returning officer concerned, approached the Supreme Court which allowed him conditionally to contest the election.

On May 31, 2013, when the three-member SC bench, headed by former CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was hearing Agha’s case, his opponent Essa Roshan filed a petition praying to become a party in the case. Essa took the plea that Agha Muhammad’s seminary degree was not equivalent to BA. The court, issuing notices to the Election Commission and Maulvi Agha Muhammad, barred the latter from taking oath until the decision of this case. However, the bench, headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, allowed him to take oath.

Meanwhile, the same bench disposed of a petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Jehangir Tareen who had contested the general election from NA-154, with the observation that they could not hear his case as it was also pending in the election tribunal.