It looks like the Axact saga has surfaced again. Chief Justice Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, on Friday, took suo motu notice of the Axact fake degree issuance scandal case which was first exposed by New York Times in 2015, and further investigated by BBC last week. CJP Nisar has taken this decision after national and international news reports that estimate that over 3,000 UK citizens had purchased fake degrees from Axact in 2013 and 2014. CJP has stated that the scandal has tarnished Pakistan’s name, making “our heads bow with shame”.

The last legal trouble we had heard about Axact was in 2016, when the Sindh High Court granted bail for Axact Chief Executive Officer Shoaib Sheikh and 13 co-accused in August. Additionally, shortly after, a district and sessions court hearing a money laundering case against Shoaib Sheikh acquitted him later. This is despite the fact that there was credible evidence against him, and that the Vice-President of Axact, Umair Hamid, had already been sentenced to 21 months in prison in the United States for his role in the international diploma mill scheme.

In many ways, the CJP has a good point to make. The Axact Scandal was an embarrassing one for Pakistan, smearing the credibility of our IT and education companies. Shoaib Sheikh’s defence that the case against Axact was propaganda is a difficult argument, as the alleged fraud of his company has been reported by various international organisations, from BBC to New York Times, to Canadain broadcasting Corporation.

Moreover, this case also sheds light on the issue of giving bail where it is not warranted. The lawyers against Sheikh had made a significant argument that the evidence against the Axact Chief was too overwhelming to be granted bail in this case. Let along the fact that the Vice President of the company had been sentenced, and there had been credible international reporting on it, but there were several witnesses, customers and employees testifying to the fact of the fraud. It is difficult for Axact to debate strong evidence present, such as the fact that most of the addresses listed for the “universities”, when investigated, turned out to be post-office shops.

However, this is one of many cases that the CJP has taken suo-moto over. Suo moto, a legal mechanism which is unique to Pakistan and India, should always be used precariously, and the recent frequent use of it can be a cause of worry.