Peshawar University admin accused of abusing powers

PESHAWAR, June 11(Dawn): The Peshawar University administration is taking important decisions without the approval of the university syndicate, informed sources said on Sunday.

"The administration is using Section-13(3) of the University of Peshawar Act 1974 to take vital decisions unilaterally," they said. According to them, meetings of the syndicate were delayed to pave way for the use of this section by the vice-chancellor.

They said that decisions of appointing an engineer as member of the finance and planning committee and chairmen of departments of Islamiat and environmental sciences had been taken without getting approval from the syndicate.

Moreover, nomination for the membership of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and membership of board of governors of the National Centre of Excellence in Physical Chemistry were a few instances that undermined the authority of the 21-member syndicate.

Rules of Business of the Act make it mandatory for the university administration to hold meetings of the syndicate once in three months and its agenda be circulated by the secretary (Registrar) to all members one week before the meeting.

The last meeting of the syndicate took place on December 27, 2006, while the next is scheduled for June 11 instead of March 2007.

The present VC took charge of his assignment in January 2006 and convened the first meeting of the syndicate in June 2006 and the second in December.

Though the rules of business make it obligatory on the registrar to circulate the agenda seven days before the meeting to enable members to study it thoroughly, the agenda, comprising 500 pages and other related working papers, for the June 11 meeting was circulated among members on June 7, giving them just four days to go through the voluminous agenda and other documents.

"This is a ploy used by the university administration to give little time to the syndicate members to go through the agenda properly," the sources said.

"Furthermore, the administration often tampered with minutes of meetings and their observations about vital decisions, such as approval of courses and budget, establishment of new departments, transfers of employees, appointment of chairpersons of departments and formation and regulations," the sources claimed.

They said that though the Section-13(3) of the University Act authorised the VC to take vital and urgent decisions and later get them approved from the syndicate, the section was massively used, depriving the syndicate members of their right of dissent.

They said there were six dissenting members representing professors, associate professors, assistant professors and lecturers.

The rest of the members included one nominee each of the Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, the Higher Education Commission and the Speaker of the NWFP Assembly, affiliated colleges, secretaries of the finance, education and establishment departments and one senior dean of the Peshawar University.

The administration also nominates one member of the syndicate from private colleges in violation of the rules of business. Other members included a prominent woman and a technocrat, who usually support decisions taken by the vice-chancellor.

The sources said that most of the members, because of being outsiders, did not know about the varsity's academic situation and approve the decisions of the VC taken under Section-13 (3) of the Act. Such a combination, they said, had placed elected members of the syndicate in a very weak position because any controversial matter in the syndicate was finally resolved through voting by all members, and the VC's decisions got majority votes because of this state of affairs.

"The VC, being the chairman of the syndicate, has an edge over others because most members of the syndicate are his nominees who never oppose his decisions," the sources said.

"In the process, important decisions are made and executed without syndicate's approval and that has deteriorated academic standard," complained a senior teacher.

When contacted, the Vice Chancellor of the Peshawar University,

Mr Haroon Rasheed, described charges levelled by some members of the PU syndicate as "totally fabricated and wrong."

He said that meetings of the syndicate were "regularly held according to rules of business of the university act."

In reply to a question about the use of authority granted by Section-13(3) of the University of Peshawar Act, 1974, he said he used this clause of the act in order to resolve what he called some urgent and emergency matters, but hastened to add that he got these approved from the syndicate members afterwards.

He also rejected the charge about notice of the agenda, claiming it was circulated among the members seven days prior to meetings.



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