VESTED INTERESTS – PU groups oppose VC’s ambitions

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LAHORE – For the very first time in history, two opponent groups of the Punjab University (PU), the Academic Group (leftist) and the Academic Group (rightist) consisting of pro-Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) teachers, joined hands on the issue of delegation powers to PU Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Mujahid Kamran by the varsity syndicate, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The leftists wanted former PU College of Earth and Environmental Sciences principal Dr Iftikhar Baloch’s position secured while the rightist wanted to save former PU Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) director Dr Mugheesuddin and present ICS Director Dr Ahsan Akhtar Naz’s skin, as all three of them were facing various charges.
Owing to PU Academic Staff Association’s (ASA) pressure on the varsity administration and syndicate members not to delegate some Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act 2006 powers to the VC, the syndicate, in its meeting on Saturday, forced the varsity administration to withdraw the issue from its agenda until the next meeting.
In its 1,685th meeting, the syndicate confirmed proceedings of its 1,683th and 1,684th meetings and approved appointment of six department chairmen and two institute directors. Both the leftist and rightist groups staged protests in front of the VC Office carrying banners against the VC’s plan to empower himself by delegating some powers of the PEEDA Act 2006. Group members even forced some syndicate members not to support the PU’s proposal or item number six of the meeting.
Both the groups have strong ideological differences and contest elections against each other. According to sources, both groups had joined hands for blocking the administration’s move. Two professors were served show-cause notices based on the PEEDA Act, which irked the syndicate. The PEEDA Act was passed by the Punjab Assembly and applied on all government employees. The Supreme Court had used the PEEDA Act as a reference in a number of cases.
Former ASA president Dr Mehar Saeed Akhtar told Pakistan Today that if PEEDA powers were delegated from the syndicate to the VC, then Dr Kamran would become king of the varsity and might misuse the powers against the varsity staff and faculty members who refused to bow down before him. “I welcome the syndicate’s decision to force the PU administration to withdraw this proposal from the agenda of the meeting until the next meeting” he added.
Akhtar said that he was stunned to that see how the VC, after passage of four years since the PEEDA Act was passed in 2006, had observed that PEEDA’s powers be exercised against faculty members and staff and in this regard and he was the most suitable authority whom some powers be delegated instead of the syndicate.
Titles of copy of item number six of the syndicate meeting obtained by Pakistan Today says, “Delegation of powers to the VC to proceed against any accused officer/teacher initiate disciplinary action/showcase notice or to constitute inquiry committee for speedy justice”. Details further stated that under the PU Act 1973, the syndicate was the sole body to suspend, punish, and remove from service any varsity employee. PEEDA’s section 5 (a) and section 7, which empowered the syndicate to proceed against the accused for issuing show-cause notices and ordering inquiries be delegated to PU VC because the syndicate’s meetings were not held regularly.
According to details, sometimes employees breached discipline severely and immediate action was required but in absence of approval of the syndicate, the VC was unable to initiate disciplinary action against the accused. The data stated that after lapse of four years of the PEEDA Act 2006, PU’s syndicate had recently served three show-cause notices under section 7 of the PEEDA Act to the three accused professors.
PU Additional Registrar Aurangzeb Alamgir said that in interest of the varsity, the PU had withdrawn the proposal from the agenda. But he said that the PU would seek advice from its legal advisor in this regard. But a senior PU official said that PEEDA’s section 2 clearly stated that the varsity like other departments of the province falls under this act and section 3 of the PU Act 1973 supported the PEEDA Act that PU would be a corporate body.
He said that before the Act, the syndicate had exercised its powers under the Efficiency and Disciplinary (E&D) Rules 1975, which was also a clear violation of the Punjab Removal from Service Ordinance (RSO) 2000. The official said that the PU syndicate had never exercised the RSO 2000 and continued its daily routine under the E&D Rules 1975.
He said that four decisions of the Supreme Court had directed varsities to work under the E&D Rules after promulgation of the RSO 2000. He said that the PEEDA Act overrides the RSO and E&D Rules owing to which the PU had taken action against the two professors under the PEEDA Act. But PU’s most senior administrative official told Pakistan Today that he was not interested in getting PEEDA powers because he felt comfortable in working under the E&D Rules 1975 and RSO 2000.