ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court Monday accepted for regular hearing a petition challenging the two academic degrees of the same time period and alleged illegal use of title of professor by Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, executive director (ED) of Higher Education Commission (HEC).

After preliminary hearing, the single bench of HEC comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddique accepted the petition and deferred the hearing till April 11 for further proceedings in this connection.

Petitioner Ikram Ullah Khalid moved the court through Malik Muhammad Usman Awan Advocate and cited Prime Minister Secretariat, chairperson HEC, chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, vice chancellor Pir Mehr Ali Shah Agriculture University Rawalpindi, Hamdard University Karachi and Islamic Educational Scientific Cultural Organisation, Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco, and others.

During the hearing of the petition, Justice Siddique showed annoyance over non-appointment of a permanent chairperson of HEC. The petitioner mentioned in his petition that the current executive director HEC had deceived the process of his selection by the commission and was holding position without any question raised.

“He being faculty member of public sector university of Rawalpindi availed USAID grant scholarship for PhD. He studied from University of California, Riverside, USA, in 1990 but failed to fulfil his commitment in the contract signed with his parent university and in this regard civil as well as criminal action was proposed against him by the audit department, government of Punjab,” the counsel for the petitioner maintained. He continued that he was still using the title of professor officially.

“As member (operational and planning) of Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, one of the key management positions, from January 2005 to February 2011, he was well aware of the HEC criteria regarding non-possession and non-claim of two degrees in the same year/semester and criteria for claim of professor,” he argued.

The lawyer stated that Dr Mukhtar had deliberately violated both the criteria which were being applied by HEC over thousands of students, scholars and faculty members for their degree attestation as well as appointment as faculty members.

The petitioner contended that as per curriculum vitae (CV) filed for the slot of executive director HEC, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed relied on two degrees of the same academic year i.e. PhD in botany in 1995 and masters of business administration (MBA) in the same year.

“The respondent having academic background in Horticulture (BSC in 1984 and MSc in 1987) and PhD in botany, became the professor of management sciences merely on the basis of masters in business administration (which cannot be recognised by HEC as per its laid down attestation criteria) in 1999 at Hamdard University, Faisalabad campus, chairman and professor department of management sciences COMSATS, Islamabad, 2001-2005, and became chairman National Business Accreditation Council Pakistan,” he informed the court. He continued that so far he did not withdraw his degree of management sciences, which could not be claimed as per HEC rules.

“It is another violation of HEC criteria for appointment of faculty, as per required criteria for professor, PhD in relevant field is mandatory along with 15 publications in HEC recognised journals,” he added.

The counsel told the court that according to copy of HEC eligibility criteria, he did not qualify any condition for becoming professor but he was still using this title, which had raised serious concerns among education community. “Dr Mukhtar manipulated and used his PhD degree in botany and ‘unrecognised by HEC’ MBA to get himself appointed as full professor of management at Hamdard University Faisalabad and COMSATS Islamabad as chairman of National Business Council, as deputy director general ISESCO, as member (O&P) HEC in MP-1 and now as ED HEC, with aspirations to become chairman,” stated the counsel.

Therefore, the petitioner prayed that Dr Mukhtar Ahmed might be directed to opt one of the qualifications as per HEC laid down criteria i.e. either PhD in botany or MBA in management sciences both acquired during 1990-95 concurrently and all consequential relief including seizure of all titles of professor etc held by him fraudulently.

He also prayed that the concerned authority might be directed to order thorough inquiry into the matter considering the sensitivity and impact of unqualified continuance in office by the respondent as executive director HEC.