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‘Plagiarists’ get key UET posts

Published Apr 07, 2011 12:18am

LAHORE, April 6: The University of Engineering and Technology Syndicate has appointed alleged plagiarists as chairmen of the Electrical Engineering and City and Regional Planning (CRP) departments.

Both the professors have also been blacklisted by the Higher Education Commission on the grounds that the UET, Lahore had not taken appropriate action against them in the light of the Plagiarism Policy. Their names figure on HEC website’s Plagiarism Policy page under the title “Black List of Faculty members”.

The UET Syndicate meeting, chaired by vice-chancellor Muhammad Akram, last month confirmed the appointment of Prof Dr Naeem Ayyaz and Prof Dr Shabiul Hassan Zaidi as chairmen of electrical engineering and CRP departments, respectively.

Electrical Engineering Department’s Prof Dr Suhail A. Qureshi, who himself is facing plagiarism cases, has written a letter to the vice chancellor as well as Syndicate members to review their decision of appointing the two blacklisted professors as chairmen. The Syndicate members might have been kept in the dark, he pointed out in the letter.

The UET VC says the case of Prof Ayyaz is lying with the plagiarism committee while Dr Zaidi’s plagiarism case has been received and the Syndicate has yet to issue charge-sheet against him. “The Syndicate members were of the view that the appointment of both departments’ chairmen has been lying pending for long and needed to be decided in favour of those holding look-after charge,” he says.

Sources (in the university) said the UET Syndicate had violated its decision wherein it had stated that no faculty member facing plagiarism inquiry would be appointed as chairman of a department.

The appointment of both faculty members as chairmen, sources said, was not on regular or even current agenda of the Syndicate. They also revealed that the Syndicate meeting held last month was not attended by the representatives of the Higher Education Commission, the Punjab Assembly, the Chancellor’s Office and the Lahore High Court.

The varsity VC says Prof Qureshi, who himself is facing plagiarism charges, is “conducting research on various faculty members’ research work” to divert the administration’s focus from his own case.

The VC admits the university had received 10 plagiarism cases – five each against faculty members and students. He says the cases of all the students and one faculty member – Electrical Engineering Department’s Associate Professor Hafiz Tahzeebul Hasan – have been decided.

The Syndicate had found that the research paper of Hafiz Tahzeebul Hasan contained mostly plagiarised material and thus the charge was confirmed. Imposing penalty, the Syndicate asked him to refrain from publishing plagiarised research papers in future. He was also directed to publish withdrawal of his research paper and an apology in the new Horizons, an IEEE Pakistan journal, in which his paper was published.

The five students were charged with submitting plagiarised MSc theses and the Plagiarism Standing Inquiry Committee (PSIC) found that their works contained mostly plagiarised material and “charge of plagiarism was proved against them without any shadow of doubt”.

The Syndicate had on May 31, 2010, directed the students – Muhammad Salman Kahleeq, Syed Nazar Sardar Zaidi, Ashiq Husain Haral, Shahzad Sarwar Gishkori and Sidra Javaid – to improve their respective theses by removing plagiarism or re-write them within one year to the satisfaction of their departments. They were also asked to refrain from plagiarism in future.

Referring to the plagiarism cases against Prof Dr Suhail Aftab Qureshi, the vice-chancellor told Dawn the PSIC had investigated and found that eight research papers of Prof Qureshi contained mostly plagiarised material. He said Prof Qureshi continued to claim credit for his tenure-track appointment on the basis of research publications, two of which had been proved plagiarised.

He said Prof Qureshi also produced three plagiarised publications including one published in 2008 after getting tenure-track appointment, which was a flagrant violation of the HEC Plagiarism Policy and conduct unbecoming of a teacher under PEEDA Act 2006.

Gen Akram said the Syndicate in view of his length of service in the university took a lenient view and reverted him to basic pay scale (BPS) of the post of professor as it was at the time of appointment on tenure track. It also asked him to withdraw the plagiarised research papers and publish an apology in the journals which published the papers.

He was also asked to refund all financial benefits and debarred from sponsorship of research funding; travel grants; supervision of PhD and MSc students except those currently being supervised; and fellowship or any other funded programme for three years.

As for the charge of misuse of university research grant by Prof Qureshi, the “Syndicate also considered the issue of Research Grant amounting to Rs700,000 drawn in 2006 and 2008 by Prof Qureshi for innovative research project titled Generating Electrical Energy from Electrostatic Vibration.

The plagiarism committee report said the project was of 12 months duration but Prof Qureshi did not make any significant progress, although he had spent more than Rs625,000 on the research project. However, he published two plagiarised research papers titled “Design of Electrostatic Vibration to Electric Energy Conversion” and “Electrostatic Vibration to Electric Converter” which were shown in the progress report of the Directorate of Research Extension and Advisory Services.

The Syndicate said the issue was whether an expenditure of Rs700,000 could be justified on plagiarised results or the funds had been misused/misappropriated. Meanwhile, Prof Qureshi denied his signature on this report but in January 2010 (during inquiry) he got another extension of one year for the completion of this project. Therefore, the Syndicate noted, the plagiarism committee decided not to further advance its investigation on this charge and recommended to proceed against him under PEEDA Act 2006 through another committee.

The Syndicate unanimously decided that the PSIC should complete the ongoing inquiry on this charge and submit the final report on the expiry of extended period for this project. Accordingly, the matter was referred back to the PSIC for further consideration of the case in the light of the above directions of the Syndicate and submission of final recommendations to it.

The VC said the cases against Prof Dr Naeem Ayyaz and chemistry department’s Prof Dr Inamul Haq were with the plagiarism committee.

Complainant Prof Qureshi, however, alleges that the cases against Prof Ayyaz and Prof Haq have been lying pending for over a year and are deliberately being delayed, while cases against him were executed in the shortest possible time.

Prof Haq, who was appointed as convener of PSIC, was himself accused of doing PhD on the basis of a plagiarised thesis. The varsity’s Director General Research had stated that there were some evidences of plagiarism committed by Prof Haq.

Prof Haq has also been named among the HEC blacklisted faculty members. Three of the six faculty members whose names figure in the list belong to the UET, Lahore.

The VC also said a plagiarism case against Prof Dr Shabiul Hassan Zaidi was received but he had yet not been issued a charge-sheet by the Syndicate.

Meanwhile, after the complaint of plagiarism against Prof Haq, the UET Syndicate has re-constituted a three-member Standing Plagiarism Committee comprising Mechanical Engineering Department chairman Prof Dr Hameedullah Mughal (convener), School of Architecture Director Prof Dr Abdul Rehman and Institute of Environmental Engineering and Research’s Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmad Qureshi.