Monday July 15, 2024

Degree non-verification: University of Swabi syndicate sacks registrar

By Yousaf Ali
July 05, 2022

PESHAWAR: The syndicate of the University of Swabi in an emergency on Monday terminated the services of the university’s registrar Naveed Anjum on account of his bachelor’s degree, which has not been verified and attested by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Some reports suggested that the former treasurer was victimized for certain

steps he had taken during his tenure as registrar and treasurer.

However, the university administration rejected the reports as baseless and said the decision was taken in view of the Peshawar High Court’s decision and the recommendation of HEC, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Governor’s Inspection Team (GIT).

Sources in the university told The News that the matter started years back when an audit para reportedly pointed out the missing record of some Rs36.8 million and signing of around 33 fake degrees signed by former acting registrar Asfandyar Khalil from 2014 to 2016. The fake degree case had earned a bad name for the university and the GIT had inquired about the matter.

The sources said that Naveed Anjum assumed charge as acting registrar/treasurer in 2017 and he was a member of the initial inquiry into the matter after which the GIT conducted its probe.

The sources said that a number of officials were involved in the degree scam and currently they were holding important positions in the university. The Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree of Naveed Anjum was questioned when the acting administration of the university took over in June 2020.

The matter was referred to the HEC, which declined to attest his degree as it had been taken from an institution, which was not recognized by the commission. Naveed Anjum said the university from where he had done his BBA existed until 2001, the year when he graduated from it and it ceased to function after the establishment of the HEC.

He said his degree had been formally verified and attested by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which was the relevant forum for the purpose before the establishment of the HEC.

He claimed the HEC was not authorized to recognize institutions and degrees with retrospective effect.However, the university administration and syndicate made an effort to take disciplinary action against him on the basis of his degree.

Naveed Anjum filed a petition in Peshawar High Court to have his degree verified by the HEC. The court recently dismissed his petition, stating that it was a policy matter of HEC and the court could not intervene in it.

During the trial of his petition about his degree, Naveed Anjum got a stay order from the high court in another case, which barred the university from taking adverse action against him until the court decided the case.

The university syndicate in a previous meeting declared the appointment of Naveed Anjum in the university as invalid and illegal ab-initio. However, the meeting discussed that the court had barred the university from adverse action against Naveed Anjum.

Therefore, the syndicate had decided that the decision would be implemented/notified in case the court decided on the petition or vacated the stay in the other case, the minutes of the meeting showed.

And if the case was decided in favour of Naveed Anjum, the syndicate would revisit its decision and decide it accordingly, the minutes added. But, despite the court and the syndicate decisions, the university had allegedly stopped the salary of Naveed Anjum last month.

His increment has ceased and he has already been transferred from his actual position of treasurer of the university, the sources said. Naveed Anjum believed that neither his case had been decided as he had submitted an appeal against the high court’s decision in the Supreme Court nor the stay granted to him had been vacated.

Moreover, the syndicate in its emergency meeting on Monday implemented its previous decision and the services of Naveed Anjum were terminated. University of Swabi Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Nasir Jamal Khattak explained the matter in detail when reached for comments before the Syndicate meeting.

He said the matter had actually happened before his joining this university. “My role is just that of the noose-man, who has to pull the lever,” he said. He said that the remarks and recommendations about his degree were made by all the relevant forums. The HEC had informed the government and the university that it could not verify the degree. The GIT had recommended further investigation of the matter. The university’s Senate wanted early implementation of the GIT’s recommendation into the matter.

The FIA had also probed the matter on the government’s recommendation and the FIA report had suggested that the institution - Orient University, Peshawar, which had granted him the degrees, had been found fake.

The FIA team had raided the university, arrested its office-bearers and recovered some stamps and other documents, the vice-chancellor said. The Governor’s House formed a committee comprising the secretary Higher Education Department, the vice-chancellor of the university and two other members to ensure the implementation of the recommendations.

But before the committee could make any progress towards the implementation of the matter, he (Naveed Anjum) moved to court and got an interim relief that no adverse action should be taken against them.

The stay still persists, Dr Nasir Jamal said. But, the court has dismissed his petition regarding his degree verification, he added. Therefore, the university administration - the vice-chancellor and the registrar - decided to convene an emergency meeting of the syndicate and seek its guidance over the matter.

Apart from the degree, there is another serious case against the former treasurer and that is of financial nature. Around Rs10 million had been withdrawn from the university accounts before my joining the office.

Though money has been deposited in the account again. But serious illegality had already been committed as no one is allowed to withdraw such an amount from the university accounts, the vice-chancellor said.