KARACHI, June 17: The University of Karachi is reluctant to help the Federal Investigation Agency seeking to investigate a number of irregularities alleged to have taken place at the KU in recent years, it emerged on Sunday.
The malpractices, sources said, pertained to illegal appointments, promotions and misappropriation of funds. The alleged malpractices had been highlighted by the FIA in multiple letters sent to the KU over the past five months, the sources said.
The FIA officials, the sources said, met the vice chancellor last month and tried to convince him that such an investigation was very much in favour of the university itself. However, the university administration has not yet provided any details required by the FIA.
The agency in its letter dated Jan 16, 2012, addressed to the registrar stated that the subject inquiry (Enquiry No 04/2012 of FIA) had been registered against the management of the University of Karachi regarding illegal appointments and various other allegations.
“It is requested to provide the complete record of all the appointments made by the university from Grade 1 to 20 since Jan 2008 (year-wise breakup) till to date. It is also requested to provide the requisite information/documents through responsible officer well conversant with the matter on or before Jan 23, 2012.”
The agency sent separate letters to the university chief engineer and estate officer to get details about the contracts awarded to parties over the past few years and the land rented or leased.
The agency also asked the university estate officer under Section 160 (police-officer's power to require attendance of witnesses) of the Criminal Procedure Code in February to appear in person at the FIA office in Karachi. The issue, according to the letter, was related to a petrol pump allowed to be set up on university land allegedly in violation of rules.
Taking up the issue of illegal promotions, the FIA sent the university registrar two letters in which the agency specifically mentioned the names of employees and asked the university to provide details about their appointments and promotions.
Besides, there were also queries regarding embezzlement of funds of the Bureau of Composition, Compilation and Translation (BCC&T) functioning under the university.
The sources said the university initially adopted a hostile attitude by warning the federal agency of action if it insisted on an investigation.
A letter sent to the FIA by the university’s legal consultant on March 7 read: “Kindly close the inquiry as it is mala fide and illegal having no jurisdiction. Hence, my client would not provide you with any document you have sought. Any proceedings initiated by you shall be defended in the proper court of law on your cost and consequences which may be noted.”
In a reply, the FIA explained to the university administration that the FIA Act 1974 extended to the whole of Pakistan and was applicable to all citizens of the country and any public servant under the federal government. And, since the university chancellor, it was pointed out, was a representative of the president and the university received its funding from a federal body, the agency was authorised to conduct an inquiry against it.
The agency, according to the sources, had moved into action after it received a complaint in writing from a former chief security officer of the university. The former official had alleged that more than 700 unlawful appointments in Grades 1 to 20 and another 500 appointments in BPS-1 to BPS-16 on an ad-hoc/contract basis had been made in the university in recent years in violation of rules.
He also pointed finger at the appointment of 18 ‘ineligible’ candidates as professors and associate professors, though their cases, according to the ex-official, were rejected by a selection board.
The former university employee also alleged that the university administration awarded Grade 17 and 18 posts to low cadre employees of Grade 7 to 11 who never appeared before any selection board which was mandatory under university rules.
Moreover, his letter stated, persons on deputation benefited “out of the way”.
The alleged irregularities, according to the sources, had also forced the agency to take up the case with the Higher Education Commission and it had asked the body to provide details about the funds the university had received for development projects from 2008 till last year.
When asked, the university administration admitted having received letters from the FIA and that it had not yet provided any details required by the FIA.
Although university officials confirmed that they initially opposed the investigation by the agency, they remained silent on the question whether the educational institution warned the FIA of legal action if it insisted on the investigation.
“The university goes through provincial audit whereas the FIA is a federal agency so legally the university is not bound to send the agency any documents or face inquiry from it. However, the university intends to share the information the agency requires in order to maintain transparency,” an email from the university public relations officer stated. It further said:
“The FIA personnel in their meeting with the vice chancellor focused on three main issues which included matters related to the BCC&T, lease of KU land for a petrol pump and appointments made by the previous administration.
“The university syndicate gave an approval for [construction of] a petrol pump in its meeting held on October 24, 2009.
The present administration hasn’t made a single appointment since it took charge. However, it is screening appointments made in the previous administration.
“Documents related to the BCC&T and other issues are being collected, which will be sent to the FIA very soon. The reason for this delay is none other than the fact that no efforts were made in the past for collection of these documents,” it concluded.