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December 2, 2020

Lawyer degrees verification: All PU officials to be taken to task in case of any tricks, says LHC CJ

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December 2, 2020

LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan warned on Tuesday that all Punjab University officials, from top to bottom, would be taken to task if anyone tried to play a trick in verification if lawyers’ degrees. He was hearing a case filed by a senior woman lawyer, Gulzar Butt, seeking verification of degrees of all candidates contesting the provincial bar council election. A Punjab University (PU) report, submitted to the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday, showed glaring anomalies in the LLB result statement of the outgoing chairman of the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) executive committee, Jamil Asghar Bhatti.

Interestingly, an earlier report, filed by the university’s examination branch last month, had cleared the LLB degree of the said lawyer.

CJ Qasim Khan expressed displeasure at the discrepancy in the reports and observed that the officials involved in issuance of a false report would be taken to task.

The latest report, filed by the controller examination, says as per the result statement of LLB annual examination 1996, held in Nov-Dec 1998, the record against roll number 1319 is Jamil Bhatti, also a newly elected member of the PbBC as per unofficial results. However, a subsequent notification issued on Aug 30, 2000 under signatures of Muhammad Yaqoob, former controller of examinations, is not valid as he was de-seated from the position on May 13, 2000.

An official of the PU told the court that the earlier verification issued in favour of Jamil Bhatti had been suspended and the case was being forwarded to a disciplinary committee and the syndicate for final decision.

The official stated that during verification of another lawyer’s degree, they found that a page of the gazette had been torn out.

Chief Justice Khan observed that it seemed the PU had been selling degrees with the connivance of its employees. “Nobody would be tolerated from top to bottom if the authorities do not mend their ways,” the chief justice warned the PU officials.

The province’s top judge made it clear: “I will send officials of the Punjab University to jail if their involvement was established in such criminal activity.

“Tell the court when bogus degrees will be cancelled,” the CJ Khan asked the PU administration.

As the deputy controller parried the question, the CJ was irked and he remarked: “No respect will be given to those who are actually criminals but working on seats of respectable teachers,” the CJ Khan added. “Degrees are being sold in the PU; you people are committing criminal activity; those are not teachers who prepare forged degrees,” the CJ added.

The PU deputy controller informed the court that after examining the degree of Jamil Bhatti, it was found out that the admission form had been issued under the name of one Javed Iqbal and his name had also been registered under the roll number of Jamil Asghar Bhatti.

Similarly, in the second part of LLB, the admission form was issued under the name of Rai Khalid Bashir Khan, but the result was issued under the name of Jamil Bhatti.

The chief justice directed the PU and a committee comprising lawyers to complete the process of verification of the degrees and submit progress reports after every two days.

The hearing was adjourned till Dec 7.

Meanwhile, the Punjab University (PU) administration has formed a four-member preliminary inquiry committee to probe the alleged involvement of its senior officials in clearing the LLB degree of a senior lawyer.

PU Pro-VC Prof Dr Saleem Mazhar, Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar, former controller Dr Sajid Rashid and Dr Iftikhar Ahmed Tarar from the university’s Law College are members of the committee.

A PU official, seeking anonymity, said that a disciplinary committee would be formed by the university’s statutory body, the Syndicate, and added an emergent meeting of the Syndicate had been scheduled for Dec 8 in this regard.