KARACHI: The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology seems to be headed towards another crisis after a meeting of the Fauuast senate in Islamabad reportedly sent the vice chancellor on a three-month forced leave, it emerged on Saturday.

The senate meeting presided over by President Mamnoon Hussain in his capacity as the university’s chancellor in Islamabad also decided that the vice chancellor of Karachi University would head Fuuast in the interim period, sources said.

Reacting to the news, Fauuast vice chancellor Prof Zafar Iqbal said the chancellor had no authority to call the senate meeting as such powers rested with the vice chancellor under the university ordinance.

“The court had issued a stay order against today’s senate meeting on Friday and I had informed the people concerned in Islamabad about it,” he said, adding that though he was being told that a decision on his forced leave had been taken at the senate meeting, he hadn’t received any thing in writing.

The senate meeting, he said, was illegal and he would challenge it in court.

Answering a question why he did not call a senate meeting the whole year, he said: “This is a separate issue. There have been quite a few instances in the past when there was no senate meeting even for two or three years consecutively but the university continued to run.”

Some delay in nominating new members, too, he argued, didn’t create any hurdle in the smooth running of the university.

“We were preparing to hold a senate session in January. The deans had been asked to prepare details of the matters to be discussed at the upcoming meeting,” he said.

Earlier, Prof Tauseef Ahmed, head of Fuuast’s mass communication department, confirmed the development in Islamabad and said: “A decision on the vice chancellor’s forced leave was taken up at the senate meeting today. It was also decided that KU vice chancellor Prof Mohammad Qaiser would be asked to head the Urdu university.”

He also said that the nomination committee of the university also held a meeting before the senate session and selected three names for the vacant seats (eight) of the senate. The list of names was later approved by the senate. Neither the VC nor the registrar attended the meeting though the latter was directed by the chancellor to do so, they said.

The meeting was called by the president in Islamabad after the VC failed to call even a single session of the senate throughout the year.

The meeting, the sources said, was crucial as the term of seven members of the senate was ending on Dec 23.

The Urdu university that has three campuses in Pakistan (two in Karachi and one in Islamabad) has been facing administrative troubles for a long time. The latest was created after the vice chancellor against whom teachers had lodged many complaints of alleged administrative and financial malpractices didn’t hold a single session of the senate in a year, which is mandatory under university rules.

The senate session had assumed more importance given the fact seven members of the body were to complete their term on Dec 23. The situation might lead to a legal impasse in running the university.

Lack of a senate session, the sources said, had also given arbitrary powers to the vice chancellor in taking administrative decisions, which was being resisted by teachers.

Two committees have so far been made to investigate the allegations against the vice chancellor. One body resigned while the second was challenged in the Sindh High Court by the university and the administration got a stay order against it.

Earlier, the academic institution had been suffering due to the absence of a full-time vice chancellor. The present vice chancellor had assumed powers two years ago.

Published in Dawn December 21th , 2014