SU vice chancellor suspended to facilitate graft inquiry against him

Updated June 01, 2019

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Prof Burfat is perhaps the first sitting VC who is facing charges of huge corruption and has now been suspended by the competent authority. — File photo courtesy of Umar
Prof Burfat is perhaps the first sitting VC who is facing charges of huge corruption and has now been suspended by the competent authority. — File photo courtesy of Umar

HYDERABAD: The Sindh chief minister has suspended Sindh University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Fateh Mohammad Burfat on Friday in the backdrop of an inquiry against him by the anti-corruption establishment (ACE).

The inquiry was completed in November last year.

Prof Burfat is perhaps the first sitting VC who is facing charges of huge corruption and has now been suspended by the competent authority.

Dr Siddiqui Kalhoro, a pro-vice chancellor of SU’s Laar campus, has been given additional charge of the post.

Two separate notifications issued by Universities and Boards Secretary Moham­mad Riazuddin were issued on Friday to place Prof Burfat under suspension and allow pro-VC to hold additional charge of the post.

The CM, according to another notification, is also said to have initiated another inquiry against the VC which would be conducted by Naheed Shah Durrani, the chairperson of the provincial planning and development board. She would submit her report within a month aft looking into the allegations of gross misconduct, corruption, violation of budgetary provisions, moral turpitude, maladministration and mismanagement against the VC.

Through the other notification, the CM has appointed Prof Dr Mohammad Siddiqui Kalhoro to hold the additional charge of SU VC.

“I haven’t received anything officially before I left for Karachi. I have, however, seen some notifications [regarding suspension and additional charge of VC being given to Dr Kalhoro] doing rounds on the social media. I will only be able to speak on it after consulting my lawyer,” said VC Burfat.

Dr Siddiqui Kalhoro confirmed having received the notification regarding his additional charge in the backdrop of the SU vice chancellor. Dr Kalhoro had also appeared before a six-member search committee as one of the 35 candidates for post of VC in 2016 when it was advertised by Sindh government.

The CM had, however, opted for appointment of Prof Burfat in 2017 through a notification as per his discretion when three names were forwarded to him in line with the procedure. Dr Kalhoro is said to be the senior-most pro-VC even otherwise in BS-22 since 2014.

Fifty candidates had applied for the the post after the search committee advertised the vacancy. Forty-one candidates were shortlisted by the committee and 35 had appeared before it. Since Burfat is suspended, Dr Kalhoro may assume the charge as per the CM’s notification and he may not take over the charge from his predecessor.

According to Dr Kalhoro, he got highest marks in his interview. He had held the charge of SU VC for almost a year after the death of Dr Abida Tahirani.

Sindh University Teachers Association (SUTA) has also been protesting against alleged mismanagement and seeking removal of Prof Burfat. Teachers within and outside SUTA had been divided over the issue as some of them support him. Prof Burfat has also been engaged in a legal battle with the Sindh government ever since the inquiry against him was initiated by the ACE.

He had obtained a restraining order in his favour in November last year. Only two days back, he filed a contempt of court application against Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah and Mohammad Riazuddin on which court issued notices to them three days back. He filed a plea against them for issuing him a show-cause notice. He termed it a violation of the Nov 20 restraining order. His plea is fixed for Aug 21.

SU embroiled in issues

SU is also said to be facing financial crisis because of finances mismanagement, causing deficit as well which tends to jeopardise payment of pensions, besides salaries of staff. A smooth academic environment eludes SU for several years.

SU sources said in case of present VC one group of teachers was tacitly backing Prof Burfat and one was supporting him. “During Abida Tahirani’s period teachers remained divided and since they were connected with media they exploit things to the hilt”, said the sources.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2019