Lahore - Dozens of appointments in public sector universities have been made without following the set criteria, as noted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which directed the Higher Education department to probe the illegalities.

The universities where the illegalities were noted include BZU, UET Taxila, University of Sargodha, Women University Multan, and University of the Punjab Lahore.

Among the illegal appointments made in administration and teaching faculty are assistant treasurers, assistant controllers, assistant registrars and faculty members from lecturers to professors at different universities.

Besides making illegal appointments on a regular basis, sources told The Nation, heavy allowances were also given to such officers even without the approval of the competent authorities. The unjustified payments were on the name of project allowances, as the audit pointed out, the sources added.

In several cases, the universities also promoted those who had no legal standing in service. Official sources at the HED said that one of the universities have stopped salaries of such appointees after the PAC questioned the legality of appointments. “However, the influential are still enjoying perks and promotions,” the sources added.

They said that the varsity administration was directed to probe the matter and clear the cases if they deem fit.

The Public Accounts Committee also took notice of the matter and in some university cases directed the HED secretary to establish committees to look into the matter and probe. The same was done for the Women University Multan case.

As per the official sources, in the case of University of Engineering and Technology Taxila, the committee expressed serious concern upon introduction of such allowances without the approval of the competent authority thus causing huge loss to the public exchequer.

The audit also pointed out that director and deputy director (P&D) at the University of Punjab were given an unjustified payment of project allowance of Rs50,000 per month besides salary during 2008. Besides pointing out the officials’ appointment, it also pinpointed unjustified packages given to the said officials. Taking notice, the audit recommended an investigation into the matter of allowances and promotions.

As per constitution of Pakistan and the higher courts’ rulings, no appointments could be justified if it were made in violation of the basic principles of the recruitment. “If any person is posted against any seat and the process was made without duly advertising the post in national dailies it would be considered null and void,” said Prof Muhammad Yousuf, a retired teacher.

The current administrations of universities are reluctant to take action against such illegal appointees. About thirty officers including faculty members alone at the University of Sargodha are still working and some of them have been promoted to next grades despite the fact that their appointments were illegal, said official sources requesting anonymity.

Other than faculty from lecturers to professors, important administrative positions like Assistant treasurers, assistant controller and assistant registrars, all gazetted officers, were also appointed without following the due course of law.

Despite the fact that such cases of irregularities and illegal appointments have been communicated to the inspection committees, the universities are continuing the fringe benefits for the persons appointed without following the criteria.

Education experts have demanded of the Secretary Higher Education department to take notice of such drastic violations under his administrative control. They support the PAC direction, “since the university administrations are a party in this case, so the HED Secretary should probe the matter”.

When contacted, a senior official of the HED confirmed that PAC was much concerned over this issue of illegal appointments , promotions, and undue allowances. It was also learnt that all the illegal appointments at UOS were made during the previous VC Dr Riazul Haq Tariq tenure. However, another former VC Dr Akram Chaudhry had tried to discontinue services of such illegal appointees but failed.

Some of the political figures, also members of the syndicate, were against him, said a university official. “He didn’t accommodate the politicians during his vice-chancellorship and stuck to admissions and appointments on merit,” said a university assistant professor.

He added that the syndicate members, who are said to be MPAs, were opposing him on many fronts and the VC could not get rid of such illegal appointees.

But, now, as the issue was pointed out by the audit, the university administration could not ignore. “Since administration itself was involved in the case, the Punjab CM should direct the Secretariat or CMIT to probe the matter,” said the educationists.