The following is pasted from a disturbing case study that I finalised today to bring focus on a much neglected aspect of governance in AJK:
Corrupt Educational Institutes aid Corrupt Societies
A Case Study of the University of Kotli - AJK
By Tanveer Ahmed: an independent action-oriented public policy researcher working un-interrupted on the ground in AJK since 2005 - 29 May 2022
Ever since this writer inadvertently returned to his motherland from the UK in 2005, he has always considered it his duty to study and research all prima facie allegations of corruption (and particularly the misuse of public money and authority) in the territory of AJK; taking practical limitations of time, resources and energy into consideration - whenever requested to do so by any aggrieved party - as a matter of public interest. Such reports and case studies are always conducted without the expectation of favour or reward from the aggrieved or elsewhere and with the intention of upholding the concepts of transparency, accountability and meritocracy - without exclusion or discrimination - as indispensable tenets of modern day governance in the 21st century.
These matters have added significance in our territory considering our ambiguous constitutional status since 1947 and the absence of institutional frameworks (locally, regionally and globally) to address our plight.
As public agency we take an integrated public policy approach to remedy both our internal dilemmas of governance and our outstanding 'national question' externally, with the exclusive assistance of our public in general (irrespective of their personal affiliations or opinions) - both at home and in the diaspora - while utilising solely peaceful, ethical, legal and democratic means. The areas we cover in our action-oriented research on AJK in particular (and JKA in general viz. Jammu Kashmir & allied areas) are broadly categorised and contextualised as security, governance, economy and culture.
The case of Sardar Sajjad Ahmad Khan of Danna in Kotli, lecturer of mathematics at Kotli University (and his alleged victimisation, for raising a multitude of questions related to corruption at Kotli University over the past few years, comes directly under this purview). Despite numerous attempts on his part, he has apparently failed to motivate the chancellor of the university (who by tradition is the president of AJK and also the chairperson of the mechanism devised for resolving internal conflicts within the university, namely the senate) to set up a 5 member inquiry commission, to comprehensively assess all claims and counter claims by Sajjad Ahmad and his adversaries at the university, in particular the Vice Chancellor (VC or VC Kotli hereon) Dr. Syed Dilnawaz Ahmad Gardezi. The former contends that matters rather than improving have further deteriorated over time.
As the allegations directly implicate the VC for academic/administrative and financial corruption, it is understood that the conscience of Lecturer Sajjad could not be appeased, hence this appeal to the wider public to address the future of their children and society at large. He feels with intensity that if the sole university in the largest district of AJK (in terms of population Kotli has over 800,000 inhabitants and it also has the largest diaspora in the whole of JKA) is unaccountable for its conduct, there is little scope for reform and progress in a society already ravaged by endemic corruption. There appears to be darkness even where there should be light.
Prima facie and after interviewing Sajjad Ahmad, then by perusing the documents provided by him to this writer, it appears that the lecturer did take pains to resolve these matters of corruption within the institutional framework of the university (namely the senate chaired by the chancellor/president of AJK) but did not succeed (despite 4 attempts) and thus he felt compelled - in public interest - to take his grievances to the judiciary as well as the media; because something far more substantial than just the image of the university was at stake. The existence of the nation and society itself is also at stake, if what Lecturer Sajjad alleges to be true.
Ultimately, as ample previous examples of public interest in AJK suggest, whereby the authorities are unable to address the just demands of activists, in consequence of which activists are arrested or tortured in a multitude of ways to prevent them from further protesting; it may be alleged that instead of paying heed to his concerns over corruption, the university removed Sajjad Ahmad from his post last month - on the 14th of April 2022 - after 17 years of uninterrupted service.
He possesses substantial documentary proof to support his allegations and for the purpose of balance and clarity, some of the counter allegations against him will also be cited. We would also keenly welcome any form of written response from the university authorities themselves and in equal measure would be eager to add that to this case study in due course.
in September 2006 Lecturer Sardar Sajjad Ahmad Khan began employment at the Kotli campus of the University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) in Muzaffarabad, the capital of AJK. He was transferred to the University of Kotli when it came into existence in May 2014, hitherto it had been a campus of AJK University since 1981.
Besides teaching, Sajjad Ahmad had worked in various administrative roles including hostel warden for 7 years, head of mathematics for 4 years, local controller of examinations, first purchase officer of the University of Kotli, coordinator for affiliated colleges and in charge for the timetable of the whole university.
Furthermore, Lecturer Sajjad became a member of the university senate (the apex forum for resolving all university related matters) from 2017 to 2020 (wherein these woes and internal conflicts appear to have emerged or accelerated), he was a member of the academic council, a member of the first statutes committee and he was also a member of the university calendar compilation committee. Apart from the aforementioned, Sajjad Ahmad had also been a member of various departmental purchase, examination and disciplinary committees.
According to Lecturer Sajjad, there were no problems before he became senate member in 2017 and before he began raising issues of administrative and financial corruption at the university. Current VC Dr. Dilnawaz Gardezi took up his position at Kotli University in September 2017 and initially the relationship between him and Lecturer Sajjad was quite productive. The latter was given some responsibilities by the new VC and upon successful completion the new VC even wrote appreciation letters to Sajjad Ahmad for his work.
That was until the first senate meeting under VC Gardezi’s tenure in March 2018, when Lecturer Sajjad began raising issues of concern within the university, that the VC started turning against him. It was all mutual recriminations after that. According to Sajjad Ahmad, from thereon every meeting was followed by spiteful letters written by the new VC to the maths lecturer.
Some important dates are being put in chronological order so that the reader can gradually assess the mutual recriminations that took place between Lecturer Sajjad Ahmad and university staff led by VC Dr. Dilnawaz Gardezi.
Lecturer Sajjad wrote a letter to the registrar of the university (who also acts as secretary of the senate too) entitled: “Corruption, nepotism, changing and concealing of official records, gaining personal benefits by misusing official positions in the University under the cover of administration”.
Sajjad Ahmad alleged that the VC had exploited the rules of service to pay himself an extra amount to the tune of 7 million rupees. An ex faculty member Dr. Asad Hussain Shah acts as dean of the faculty of sciences despite this role being withheld by the VC, that he – Dr. Shah - is still being paid a salary over the past few years despite an order to stop his pay, under direction of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan. Lecturer Sajjad alleges that the directions of the senate have been ignored in this regard. Despite a committee being formed by the chancellor to recover unmerited allowances paid to staff, the matter remains pending in reference to the University of Kotli. Furthermore, the above cited Dr. Asad Hussain Shah collected funds for the university from the UK in 2018 but didn't deposit those funds in the university account and this matter was also concealed from the senate, according to Sajjad Ahmad. Dr. Asad visited the UK this year (2019) too and the question arises as to who is assigning these 'duties' to him? The allegation of extra allowances paid to staff recurs within this letter. In addition, an illegal tender for 2.7 million rupees worth of furniture was given in 2017/18 which was allegedly of such cheap quality that it broke even before reaching the classrooms, apparently this was also concealed from the senate.
Letter written by university (deputy registrar) on behalf of VC to Lecturer Sajjad entitled “Non-compliance of orders and irresponsible and irrelevant stance as a member of Senate”:
Allegations revolved around questioning Sajjad Ahmad's authority to ask the registrar about his duties and responsibilities, questioning undue payments of salaries of university officials, approaching the judiciary, illegally attending meetings of review committee and claiming expenses for attending such, designing and performing official tours without any assignment from the university and claiming expenses for such, that when his bill for such was refused by the treasurer (Dr. Sabahat Akram) he abused her and then kicked her table before forcing her to pay, that Lecturer Sajjad received 940,000 rupees for an international conference in 2016 but did not submit expenditure details, making himself unaccountable at faculty of sciences and creating intrigue against other teaching staff, stealing official files of the university and providing them to outside sources. encouraging others to file petitions in court against the university and finally accusing him of abnormal or defiant behaviour while describing him in so many words as being of ‘unsound mind’ to perform his duties.
At the end of this letter Lecturer Sajjad was reminded that his duties were simply to teach and research on his subject, nothing else. He was also warned that his "actions" may lead to the secession of his senate membership and disciplinary action under efficiency and discipline (E & D hereon) rules of the university, could be taken against him.
Letter reference: RO/3050/2019
As senate member Lecturer Sajjad explained to the chancellor that the latter had written him a letter and that he – Sajjad – had attended in that light. Sajjad Ahmad asked the chancellor to first decide whether he – Sajjad – was fit to sit in the senate meeting because the VC has described him as mad. In response, the chancellor asked Sajjad Ahmad to write to him and that he – the chancellor - would personally look into the matter.
Under University Act Section 32 explanation was sought from VC (by senate/chancellor). However, according to Lecturer Sajjad the VC has a habit of subduing files that put questions to him. Meanwhile, according to Sajjad the VC is tampering with Sajjad’s service file. Lecturer Sajjad had already brought issues to the chancellor's attention twice before but instead of forming a committee to investigate VC's actions taken against Sajjad Ahmad, an ‘authorised officer’ was instated by the VC to discipline Sajjad Ahmad.
A letter was written by AJK president's secretariat (doubling as chancellor's office) referencing the appeal by Lecturer Sajjad against the derogatory remarks passed by VC Kotli in his letter dated 23/09/2019, while enclosing the self-explanatory appeal by the lecturer too. Comments were sought from the VC by the chancellor.
According to Lecturer Sajjad; VC has not responded to above till date.
In it Lecturer Sajjad reminded the chancellor that no action had been taken on his request. He was assured by the chancellor (promised in front of the senate) that an independent inquiry would be conducted.
Professor Dr. Muhammad Ali Vice Chancellor of Qaid e Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan (VC QAU hereon, was assigned as ‘authorised officer’ by VC Kotli) who directly wrote a ‘Show Cause Notice’ letter to Lecturer Sajjad (without due procedure and contrary to the rules set out in the University Act) and alleged the following acts of misconduct according to university employees efficiency and discipline (E & D) statutes 2018:
i) That he misused his powers as a member of the university senate.
ii) That he was responsible for irregularities in purchasing matters.
iii) That he used social and print media to defame the university and its authorities.
iv) That he published official records on social media.
v) That he was guilty of misconduct and indiscipline by giving oral and written orders without authority. Also, that he failed to respond to letters, queries or provide explanations demanded by higher authorities.
vi) That he was involved in unlawful conduct according to AJK Government Servant Conduct Rules 1981.
vii) That his conduct was unauthorised under the AJK Legislative Assembly Act XVIII of 2016.
Lecturer Sajjad was warned that these violations amounted to gross misconduct and could result in his dismissal from service. He was also informed that there was no need to hold a formal inquiry as there was sufficient material on record to establish his misconduct, citing the E & D statutes quoted above and Chapter 1 Section 6 (sub-titled ‘Inquiry Procedure to be Observed by the Authorised Officer’) sub-section iii. VC QAU also gave the mandatory 14 day opportunity for Lecturer Sajjad to respond else an ex parte (one-sided/in his absence) decision be made against him.
Lecturer Sajjad Ahmad put a writ petition before (the High Court) that if the registrar and treasurer are being promoted from BPS (Basic Pay Scale) 20 to 21 then he should be promoted from BPS 18 to 19 on the basis of “Equality before law”. When I queried this from Sajjad Ahmad he explained that he had a made a general proposition, not just for himself. That is, if some people are being promoted without fulfilling criteria then that should apply across the board. It appears that there at least 10 staff members seeking promotion from BPS 18 to 19.
In a letter from VC QAU to VC Kotli the former conveys that he had sent a show cause notice to Lecturer Sajjad which he claims was never replied to or rebutted before the set deadline. Then a reminder was sent which was responded to by a legal notice through Sajjad Ahmad's lawyer. Subsequently, a personal hearing was arranged for Lecturer Sajjad before VC QAU on 15/02/2021 which the former chose not to attend. In light of above, he was suspended from duty for 3 months for what VC QAU described as "the absolute disregard for official proceedings by Mr. Sajjad."
The above actions of VC QAU and Lecturer Sajjad’s (apparent failure) to respond were deciphered as follows:
It is understood that VC Kotli and VC QAU were friends from their postgraduate student days at a university in Wales (United Kingdom), where they were both pursuing their PHDs. Given that it appears VC Kotli wanted to avoid any scrutiny upon his own conduct he decided to appoint VC QAU as an ‘authorised officer’ to discipline or bring Lecturer Sajjad into ‘line’. However, the latter pre-empted this through legal proceedings, informally briefed VC QAU at length on how and why he was being victimised. VC QAU felt he was in no position to take action against VC Kotli but at the end of the letter referenced on this timeline, he suggested a ‘Higher Power Committee’ be formed to comprehensively assess claims and counter claims of all concerned parties, including the allegations made by Sajjad Ahmad.
Subsequently, it is alleged by Lecturer Sajjad that VC Kotli – as per habit – kept this report of VC QAU hidden for many months before Sajjad Ahmad was finally able to obtain a copy of it.
Lecturer Sajjad wrote a letter (typed in Urdu) to the chancellor of the university entitled, “Appeal reference higher power committee recommended by authorised officer Professor Dr. Muhammad Ali VC QAU Islamabad (Pakistan)”.
Explaining that he is being hounded by the VC for the past 3 years, he references the letter written by the chancellor to the VC on 26/12/2019, where the former asked for an explanation. Sajjad Ahmad reiterates that the VC has a habit of burying such letters from the chancellor and then begins tampering with the service (record) files of his (Lecturer Sajjad’s). He reminded the chancellor that he had written twice before in this regard to the chancellor but instead of a committee being formed to address complaints against the VC an ‘authorised officer’ is deputed to question his own (Sajjad’s) complaints. The VC describes him as mad and an ‘authorised’ officer is also deputed against him. Lecturer Sajjad reminded the chancellor that despite an order of suspension from the High Court (in reference to the disciplinary action being taken by the university against the lecturer) and despite the lapse of more than two years since he began requesting a formal inquiry commission in reference to VC Kotli, nothing has been done, rather that he – Sajjad Ahmad – is being victimised for raising such issues.
In the next paragraph, Lecturer Sajjad highlights the contradictory statements of the VC in reference to the allegation that he – Lecturer Sajjad - is of unsound mind. In the defamation suit at the district and sessions court pursued by Lecturer Sajjad the VC denied in court that he had written any such letter or even being aware of such a letter. The VC added that if any such letter had been written by the office (of the registrar presumably) he was not responsible for it. While on the same matter – viz. the allegation that Lecturer Sajjad was of unsound mind – while responding to the chancellor in writing, the VC had explained that action is being taken against Lecturer Sajjad under E & D statutes, the report of which would be presented in the senate, the very letter that the VC had denied knowledge of in court.
Further on in the letter Lecturer Sajjad pointedly puts the question to the chancellor that: Is the VC not duty bound to follow the chancellor’s orders? Is tampering of the record, writing false applications from a bogus platform and taking them to the senate permissible? Can formal action not be taken against the VC for unjustly using his position and authority for personal gain?
Sajjad Ahmad felt he was being mentally tortured because he’d exposed the administrative and financial corruption of the VC, registrar and treasurer; in his capacity as a member of the senate.
He re-appeals to the chancellor to set up an inquiry committee under section 8 (5A) of the University Act. He also reminds the chancellor that whenever he – the chancellor - writes to the VC or registrar’s office for an explanation, they subdue that letter and then immediately and against procedure begin writing letters to Lecturer Sajjad, asking for explanations. That Sajjad Ahmad had approached every forum possible (including legal) but in his opinion the VC lies, pretends, puts on an act or provides false tampered records. That he had sent evidence before and was sending further evidence attached to this letter.
Attached were details about overpaid salaries of various staff, a letter (dated 30/09/2019) from in charge faculty of sciences Dr. Asad Hussain Shah to Dr. Amaan Ullah Dar in reference to the latter’s leave for Canada without a notification of approval of said leave. There was a letter noting his absence dated 01/11/2019 from the deputy registrar.
VC Kotli under section 5 (1) of E & D statutes 2018 appointed Dr. Ghulam Nabi Acting Director QEC (Quality Enhancement Cell) as an ‘authorised officer’ against Lecturer Sajjad. Note that this was the second time that VC Kotli set up an ‘authorised officer’ to ‘discipline’ Lecturer Sajjad, after the first - namely VC QAU - ultimately suggested a higher power committee to comprehensively investigate all claims and counter claims from all sides, similar to what Sajjad Ahmad was demanding all along. Allegedly, this didn’t suit VC Kotli and thus he deputed another ‘authorised officer’, closer to home so to speak. The letter notifying of such was sent out by registrar Dr. Faheem Ghazanfar (ref. no. Admin/8132-35/2021)
Discussing university corruption in the media (both print and social), making illegal and unauthorised correspondence with other government offices without permission of competent authority. At the end of the letter it was alleged that Lecturer Sajjad had failed to give online lectures to his students during the Covid outbreak and abused those who enquired of such.
Lecturer Sajjad writes about other matters of corruption not so far covered in this report. For example, “University becoming a white elephant…many classes not being conducted throughout year…salary payments for non-existent teachers…and tampering of minutes taken during senate meeting/s etc.”
Meanwhile, Sajjad Ahmad was asked to respond to these allegations by 16/12/2021.
On the same day an order was passed by the VC according to a letter issued by registrar Dr. Faheem Ghazanfar (ref. no. Admin/8126-30/2021) that Lecturer Sajjad was suspended from duty, for what the VC described as subversive activities.
Lecturer Sajjad wrote a handwritten Urdu letter to Dr. Ghulam Nabi (new ‘authorised officer’ appointed by VC) making clear that he had no confidence in the inquiry being conducted against him, neither did he – Sajjad Ahmad – have confidence in Dr. Ghulam Nabi as an ‘authorised officer’ and cited the High Court too as being engaged on this matter. He also mentioned about the issue of BPS (Basic Pay Scale) 21 being dealt with in the Ehtesab (Accountability) Bureau and that he could not rely on Dr. Ghulam Nabi to be impartial. Lecturer Sajjad also felt these continuous inquiries were trying to divert/deflect matters away from the issues that he - Sajjad Ahmad - had been raising. He finished by saying that he also had the option of taking these one sided inquiries to court.
A writ petition was made in the High Court (under article 44 of interim constitution 1974) in reference to the impugned order and letter dated 29/11/2021 which Lecturer Sajjad wanted quashed and set aside, as being without lawful authority and jurisdiction. Further, that VC Kotli be restrained from initiating disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner (Lecturer Sajjad), arguing that VC is not the appropriate authority to discipline a lecturer (of scale 18) of the university and that it was the senate that had such power under the University of Kotli Act.
He contended that under section 10.5(d) of the University of Kotli Act the senate reserves power to exercise against university teachers – on account of it being the competent authority - whereas no such agenda item has been included in the senate meeting to date. Lecturer Sajjad’s lawyer also argued that Dr. Ghulam Nabi can also not send a show cause notice to him in light of E & D statutes 1988.
On the other hand, the legal advisor appearing on behalf of respondents (for VC and Dr. Ghulam Nabi etc.) contended that the show cause notice was issued on the basis of charges placed before the senate and the senate had approved to start proceedings under E & D rules. Further, that the competent authority took action as chief executive officer under section 10(2) of university statutes and is thus authorised to take necessary measures and VC has all powers prescribed for this purpose; including administrative control over officers, teachers and other employees of the university. Further, that the petitioner had no right to invoke the extra ordinary jurisdiction of this court as inquiry is in process and thus writ petition is premature.
The judge reasoned that appropriate course for the petitioner was to file his reply and face inquiry proceedings and invite a decision by the university authorities. He also pointed out that filing an appeal before the senate is also available to the petitioner.
Two days after above court decision:
A 'Show Cause Notice' letter (ref no. PS/326/2022) was sent to Sajjad Ahmad by VC Kotli. Lecturer Sajjad was notified that Dr. Ghulam Nabi - the ‘authorised officer’ appointed to collect evidence against the lecturer - had recommended to proceed against him under section 4 (b) (iv) of E & D statutes. Lecturer Sajjad was also notified that the report was presented on 18th January 2022. Finally, he was asked to appear in person at the VC Secretariat on 13 April 2022, while being given 7 days to explain his position.
Lecturer Sajjad Ahmad wrote a handwritten Urdu letter to the VC entitled 'Show Cause Notice' referring to such a notice written by the university on 07/04/2022 which quoted E & D rules, whereas the lecturer considers the appropriate and competent authority to deal with these matters as the senate. He also quotes his case being heard in the High Court.
He wrote a separate handwritten Urdu letter entitled, “Receipt of report authorised director Dr. Ghulam Nabi”.
In this he references the 'Show Cause Notice' notification/letter received by him on 07/04/2022 (ref no. PS/326/2022), that he hadn't received a copy of the report cited in that letter and makes a request for it so that he may formally respond to it.
Order issued by registrar (ref. no. Admin/1839-44/2022) referring to a report by registrar (Dr. Faheem Ghazanfar) and Dr. Ghulam Nabi who was appointed (by VC) as an ‘authorised officer’ to probe the allegations against Sajjad Ahmad for recommendation under Efficiency and Discipline (E & D) statutes of the university. He was thus removed from service under the aforementioned statutes 1988 4 (1) (b) (iv) with effect from 14/04/2022, subject to the approval of the senate.
Lecturer Sajjad writes once again to the chancellor, appealing under section 32 of University Act 2014 against order number Admin/1839-44/2022, dated 13/04/2022.
He reminds the chancellor of his victimisation for exposing corruption in the university. That on 11/09/2019 he had written details about this corruption on the direction of the senate. That on 29/09/2019 a letter was written to him on the direction of the VC that he was abnormal and of an unsound mind. That on 24/12/2019 he made an appeal against this in the senate and this was followed by a letter from the chancellor to the VC, where an explanation was sought. That on 11/08/2020 Lecturer Sajjad reminded the senate in a meeting that no action had been taken on his appeal. In response, the chancellor promised there and then that an independent inquiry would be launched but when the minutes of the senate meeting were published, an ‘authorised officer’ had been deputed against him – Lecturer Sajjad - and action under E & D began, notwithstanding the allegation that he was of unsound mind (and thus if so how would such action be appropriate?). Time moved on without a response and an inquiry against Sajjad Ahmad was taken up by VC QAU which he managed to get suspended from the court. When no action was taken in response to the VC’s derogatory remarks about him he had filed a defamation suit, proceedings of which are still running in court.
VC QAU had also recommended a higher power committee. Lecturer Sajjad had repeatedly requested such from the chancellor too to investigate the allegations of corruption. On 30/11/2021, as a result of his persistence in pursuing the allegations of corruption and by adding some false allegations against Sajjad Ahmad, the latter was suspended and also banned from entering the university, by VC Kotli. He describes that when he arrived at the university gate that day the security officer and his team were very aggressive with him and they even cracked the windscreen of his car. Consequently, in the presence of other senior faculty members he made a formal complaint to the deputy commissioner (DC Kotli). In the same order VC had made Dr. Ghulam Nabi an ‘authorised officer’.
In response to what he describes as an ‘unconstitutional act’ by the VC, Lecturer Sajjad filed a writ petition in the High Court and appealed that under section 10 (5d) of the University Act the VC does not hold such power. This authority presides with the university senate and to date no list of allegations against him have been set as an agenda item. In light of this, the High Court suspended this order on 02/02/2022. Thereafter, when the university gave its stance that the order is being processed through the senate and is thus at a premature stage, the judge took that into consideration and dismissed the case on 05/04/2022.
Lecturer Sajjad then approached the Supreme Court on 12/04/2022 where the case is running. Earlier, on 07/04/2022 a show cause notice was received by him from the VC. It stated that Dr. Ghulam Nabi had submitted a report on 18/01/2022 in which it was suggested that Lecturer Sajjad be removed from service. That Lecturer Sajjad had 7 days to respond and that he present himself before the VC on 13/04/2022. On the aforementioned date, two applications were presented to the VC by Sajjad Ahmad that neither from the inquiry officer or from the VC did he – Sajjad - receive a copy of the report, hence he should kindly be provided that copy so that he may submit a formal response. In the other application he explained that according to E & D statutes the VC cannot take action or demand a personal hearing. That this prerogative lies with the senate, he re-asserted.
Later, on the same day viz. 13/04/2022 the VC gave the order for Lecturer Sajjad’s removal from service. Even according to the show cause notice there were still two days left.
It is also to be noted that, on order dated 30/11/2021 it was clearly written that allegations against Lecturer Sajjad were made after the report of ‘authorised officer’ (1st) VC QAU and that ‘authorised officer’ (2nd) Dr. Ghulam Nabi would now investigate allegations and give recommendations on matters after that previous report; but all the allegations in the report in the registrar’s office were two years old! These very allegations had been presented to VC QAU too! However, Lecturer Sajjad clarified that because the VC QAU’s report was not to their liking as he seconded Sajjad’s opinion that a high power committee be established, this didn’t please VC Kotli. Thus, the latter deputed another ‘authorised officer’ of his own liking to obtain the report he desired, without taking any further action as claimed.
Lecturer Sajjad stated his absence of confidence in Dr. Ghulam Nabi in writing and appealed to the VC to stop this action. The lecturer had in various meetings of the senate repeatedly stated that Dr. Ghulam Nabi’s promotion to BPS 21 was against rules and regulations and whereby he had not received that promotion.
Thus, all the above clarifies – in Lecturer Sajjad’s opinion - that whatever action VC has taken against him was on account of personal enmity and convenience, to cover his own corruption. The VC has extended himself beyond his mandate, his order was illegal and against the rules and should thus be quashed.
Other details of alleged corruption by university staff, according to lecturer Sajjad:
- For a mere 12, 10 or even 5,000 rupees (in bribes) university staff are playing with the future of our children.
- On Eid and other holidays, university vehicles are used by drivers for their own personal use. This also extends from day to day whereby university employees or their relatives use these vehicles for their personal use.
- New vehicles were bought by the university in 2014, 2017 and 2020, unwarranted according to lecturer Sajjad.
- In the two years duration of the Covid pandemic no significant studies/lessons were provided to the students, yet they were charged fees. Furthermore, students were not transported during this period but we still charged transport fees. Same with library fees and Internet fees etc.
- According to the university audit report – 1,31,92,120 (almost 13.2 million rupees) which amount to - 1 crore, 31 lakh, 92 thousand and 120 rupees - extra public money was taken by VC Kotli (for himself presumably).
- According to Lecturer Sajjad VC Kotli tried to change the above report. Apparently, he has two of his fellow tribesman (from the Gardezi family) in the audit team. There is also a member of the Gardezi family in the Ehtesab (Accountability) Bureau too. Along with Director of Administration Saleem Gardezi, it is alleged that they collude on securing employment opportunities in the university too.
- Lecturer Sajjad opines that because Dr. Ghulam Nabi didn’t obtain promotion to grade 21 because of him, this was a major reason for his dismissal from service. Further, that Dr. Ghulam Nabi still has false and stolen publications among his ‘credentials’.
- Critical responsibilities at the university of Kotli (registrar with administration and treasurer with finance) are alleged to have been given by the VC – according to his liking – in order to manage and protect his corrupt behaviour. Furthermore, the female made treasurer by the VC was despite her being a contract employee (namely Dr. Sabahat Akram), who has taken 927,000 rupees in additional wages too.
- Lecturer Sajjad considers the VC’s connections to be so powerful in the bureaucracy that the latter ‘even out’ most matters (serious allegations of corruption) before they reach the stage of an inquiry commission being invoked by the chancellor. Sajjad Ahmad would be keen to elaborate on such matters if indeed an inquiry commission is set up.
- The lecturer nevertheless gives some examples of how controversy over corruption is stifled whereby some people are given some money and managed, some are given a job and managed, some are given an all-expenses paid trip to the Neelam Valley and managed while others are given a share from a development project and managed etc.
- The case of Dr. Amaan Ullah Dar has been touched on earlier in this report (Page 8) whereby it is alleged by lecturer Sajjad that he spent a year in Canada but was still paid wages. It is further alleged that the VC reinstated him in his earlier position upon return and pocketed a substantial amount of those wages himself.
- In another bizarre case of corruption, it is alleged that a female lecturer has been absent from her post at the University of Kotli for two years and has been in Rawalpindi (Pakistan), where she is allegedly running a private boutique. That she has deputed someone else - on ‘contract’ - to teach in her place, apparently with the knowledge of the VC. It is understood that the relevant dean and department have written repeatedly to summon her for her absence but without avail, as her father (a retired district and sessions judge) allegedly helps out the VC in matters related to the judiciary.
- The university inducts Masters and MPhil students but facilities for them are non-existent. Even chairs and tables are few and far between, there is no water to drink and the bathrooms are in a despicable condition.
- The university ground is also an interesting case: The university administration has embezzled funds for it from various angles on four occasions! It is alleged that the current registrar appointed by VC took a cheque of 18 lakhs (18,00,000 rupees) in 2017/18 for the ground, which he cashed through his own private account! Lecturer Sajjad adds that the VC made him registrar as a reward or rather so that the VC can in turn blackmail the registrar into making appointments according to the VC’s liking. Another example of corruption in the name of the university ground was provided by a contractor named Furqan of Bhimber who submitted an application to the Accountability Bureau as well as the VC, that the university administration had cashed a forged cheque in 2017. The VC didn’t act on the complaint except to use the matter against those who complained, alleges Sajjad. Matters proceeded to the local print media whereby the VC categorically gave a statement that not a single rupee of corruption was committed and that these allegations were all lies.
- There are actually about 2,800 students at the University of Kotli whereas its VC says that we have 7,000, as projected to HEC for the purposes of funding. Note that a portion of funding comes from the HEC while the rest is obtained from students in fees etc.
- Lecturer Sajjad Ahmad is adamant that he is barely skimming the surface of corruption at the university. It is much uglier below the surface, he contends. As with all allegations submitted by Lecturer Sajjad, he asserts that documentary evidence is also available.
It is without doubt that we live in a society with endemic corruption and being part of a constitutionally ambiguous territory where the local people’s (public) reference has been deliberately ignored from the outset – since 1947 – despite claims to the contrary by all concerned; including the departing colonial power Britain (now formally described as the United Kingdom), India, Pakistan, China, the United Nations, the political leadership on either side of Jammu Kashmir & Allied areas (JKA) and even we the people do not give due importance to the learned opinions of each other. This means we are fooling ourselves about our ability to stand with any moral or ethical stance in front of the world. We cannot have a principled stand if we possess no principles of our own. If the weak cannot stand behind ‘right is might’ they have no ground to compel those stronger than them to do so. We are also disabling ourselves from competing economically with the world, let alone compete in science and technology.
Heavy introspection is needed and being honest about our own performance in every field is most important. This is where educational institutes play a fundamental role and this is where most attention and investment in time, energy and resources is required.
The saga of alleged corruption at Kotli University is not unique to that institution but we can utilise the experience of this case study to begin understanding its depth and the various forms it takes. It is very clear that a lot more research and inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of this malaise and tackle it from its roots.
Lecturer Sajjad has felt that he has been fighting alone for four years to invoke an inquiry commission and he’s been advocating for such despite being a government employee, which makes his struggle all the more remarkable considering that such employees have relatively much more at stake compared to the average activist in society. Not only does one risk the loss of a secure income, they are also victimised by their own peers, castigated by their own family and friends for bringing up matters that are so common that they are irredeemable and thus not worth the risk of losing a secure income over.
Selfishness is promoted to such an extent in our society that one is automatically considered mentally retarded and from a different world if they as much as show a hint of selflessness. This also negates the need of educational institutes in such a society, except for purely commercial purposes of course. There are always two sides to a coin and nature operates on the co-existence of opposites. No matter how much darkness there is in a society, there will always be advocates of light. For every action there will always be a reaction.
Lecturer Sajjad qualifies his stance by his professed motivation to save his institution and society. He has gone further than most of his peers in this profession and apart from the rest of society, students and their parents must stand with him, if indeed everything that he is alleging and professing is true.
It is also clear that Lecturer Sajjad did try and resolve these matters behind closed doors in full anticipation of their detrimental effect on society. Perhaps this is an indication of how deep corruption is in our society, that perpetrators feel immune from any prospect of wrath, irrespective of whether it comes from society or from the Almighty who created us all.
According to Lecturer Sajjad there have been some consequences that may force the university authorities to re-think their stance. He describes that where there used to be over 200 student applications for each department, they now have only 12 students who have applied across 6 departments at Masters level, according to entry test statistics.
Other lessons from this case study include the pattern of mutual recrimination in our society, the ambiguity of authority, the lack of moral courage or ethical power of those higher up to admonish or prosecute those below them for wrongdoing, except of course when someone like Lecturer Sajjad tries to expose the whole edifice of corruption within a given institution. How such people are isolated and made an example of to deter others from emulating them, is notable.
What probably began as an objection to the unmerited promotion of 3 members of staff (from BPS 20 to 21) where the selection board did not recommend them but they tampered with the record to show that they were recommended, has opened up a hornet’s nest of deep rooted corruption in educational institutes throughout AJK. In this particular case, an explanation by Lecturer Sajjad that their case should be referred to the HEC so that their credentials can be checked. That is what was agreed and consequently the HEC gave a report against them.
At the time, Lecturer Sajjad along with some other members of staff went to court at their own expense but the VC did not accept any court rulings or the senate’s advice. According to Sajjad Ahmad the VC considered himself accountable to nobody. What probably began as the lecturer trying to maintain his self-respect has spiralled into a much needed crusade against endemic corruption.
Everything that happens is ultimately inevitable. What goes around comes around.
If public money is treated with such contempt, what is the value of that public?
The public needs to answer that question themselves, to the satisfaction of their conscience and their declared belief in the Almighty.
Meanwhile, the tussle in court is taking place on two counts with a third front opening soon too:
A defamation suit in the High Court – next date 27/06/2022
Challenging suspension/disciplinary action by university at Supreme Court – next date 17/07/2022
In the latter, Lecturer Sajjad Ahmad has asked his lawyer to request the honourable judge to simply direct the chancellor to set up the ‘Higher Power Committee’ as suggested by VC QAU.
Lecturer Sajjad Ahmad will also file another writ in the High Court imminently, to challenge his ‘removal from service’ order.
Finally, the promotion issue of 3 members of staff from BPS 20 to 21 and related to that the promotion of at least 10 members of staff from BPS 18 to 19 is also pending in the university senate.
Links to statutes referenced in this report as well as the report itself can be accessed at: http://tanveerandkashmir.blogspot.com/2022/05/daily-diary-dd-day-149-of-2022.html or type Day 149 of 2022 at: ajkpublicagency.org
End….The report above can also be viewed in pdf format here
Employees (Efficiency and Discipline / E & D) Statutes 2018 can be viewed here
University of Kotli Act 2014 can be viewed here