ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the dismissal of the Bahuddin Zakariya University vice chancellor and registrar in the light of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) report into the private law colleges scam worth Rs459 million.
The FIA report has named a number of officials of the university management for their alleged involvement in the illegal affiliation of law colleges, students enrolement way beyond allocated seats, embezzlement of amount pertaining to fake/forged fee vouchers, double registration of students and fake attendance certificates etc.
Headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, a three-judge SC bench is seized with a case related to mushroom growth of law colleges across the country. Senior counsel Malik Aneeq Khatana had moved the petition seeking a restraining order against lawyers from taking part in any election for being enrolled either after passing on the basis of 40 per cent marks instead of set criteria of 50 per cent or without passing Law Graduate Assessment Test (LAW-GAT).
Khatana told Dawn that the Supreme Court had also ordered the FIA to furnish a detailed report of its investigations into the BZU state of affairs and register cases against some 42 law colleges involved in the scam.
Bar vocational course mandatory for practice licence
The court also ordered the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) not to issue practice license to lawyers until they completed two-week mandatory Bar Vocational Course (BVC). The court also directed all the bar councils to arrange a presentation to the court to get approval regarding the modules for BVC with a direction to the federal government to provide funds for the preparation of the course.
In Aug 31, 2018, the Supreme Court had ordered that all the bar councils would arrange BVC to impart training to lawyers.
At the last hearing on Nov 11, 2022, the apex court learnt that though the Punjab Bar Council had prepared modules and handed them over to all the local bars, there was a lack of capacity and availability of premises to arrange training for the lawyers who were joining the profession on a yearly basis and, therefore, there was a need to associate the Punjab Judicial Academy and the respective district judges who could arrange suitable premises for training.
Earlier, the court had directed that PBC, provincial bar councils and the law ministry to meet the government to tackle the issue of funds.
According to the FIA report, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was constituted to probe the genuineness of candidates of LLB Part-I second annual examination 2019 held in 2022, to procure the relevant record of LL.B Part I and to examine the money trail and undertake a forensic audit /analysis of the same in pursuance of Sept 14, 2022 Supreme Court orders.
It surfaced during the enquiry proceedings, the report said, there were instances of violation of laws and rules not only in affiliation but in allocation of seats in different law colleges like double registration of students. “There is grave issue of fake fee vouchers and fake attendance of students,” the report highlighted.
The JIT proceedings revealed that a list of 11,396 students was sent by the registration branch to the BZU controller examinations for conducting the examination.
Out of them, 5,169 students were barred by the controller from participating in the exams due to different reasons like admission forms were not attested by the principals of respective colleges, same enrolment numbers allotted to more than one students, students whose permissible chances exhausted, students who already passed or enrolled with LLB Part I in previous examinations but tried to appear afresh after long interval, students whose soft data was not available or photographs pasted on admission forms did not match enrolment cards and data of the students etc.
Out of 11,396 students, 6,227 were allowed to appear in the examination of LL.B. Part-I, Second Annual Examination 2019. Total 5,169 students were barred from appearing in examination by the controller. Thus the BZU registrar, deputy registrar and other members of registration branch were responsible and an approximately Rs258.4 million were collected from students which were not verified to be paid back to them.
Moreover, the BZU management of that time -- vice chancellor, registrar, affiliation committee and legal sdvisors -- were hand in glove with a number of law colleges for giving benefit in extension of affiliation and excessive allocation of seats to these law colleges. While doing so, they even gave schedule of admission to non-affiliated law colleges and thus 2,890 additional seats were allotted to colleges and approximately Rs144.5 million was collected by such law colleges.
Likewise, the BZU management, in connivance with the law colleges involved in the double registration of students, issued fake fee vouchers. The JIT found that 4,392 students were enrolled in the colleges but their residential districts were different from the districts where the colleges were in operation.
It cannot be ruled out that such students were not regular students and colleges were just showing them as regular students in their record, the report said, adding 738 students found to be government servants.
Uptil now approximately Rs36.9 million have been collected from the students who were government servants and did not attend classes, the report said.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2023
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