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SU VC suspended over corruption allegations

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SU VC suspended over corruption allegations
« on: June 02, 2019, 01:32:16 PM »
SU VC suspended over corruption allegations
HYDERABAD: 02 June:In a first, the Sindh government has put an incumbent vice-chancellor of a public sector university under suspension for being implicated in a corruption case by the Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah notified on Friday the suspension of Sindh University’s VC Prof Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat “until the finalisation of inquiry already instituted against him”.

The notification was issued by Boards and Universities Secretary Muhammad Riazuddin. The Pro VC of SU’s Laar Campus Prof Dr Muhammad Siddique Kalhoro has been given the acting charge of VC in the interim.

The SU’s spokesman said that the varsity has still not received the notification. The removal comes over halfway through Burfat’s four-year term. He joined the SU as its VC on January 19, 2017.

The ACE initiated the inquiry against Burfat in October, 2018, when he and other officials of SU were served a notice to record statements. The ACE began investigating a range of expenditures made with the VC’s approval.

“…it has surfaced that a series of illegalities and corrupt practices have been committed by a cartel of the university’s officers in connivance with each other through an organised conspiracy,” the letter read.

The ACE sought a list of bank accounts and the bank statements of the SU and Burfat since he took charge, comparative statements of profit earned from the SU’s fuel stations before and after Burfat’s joining and complete details of the development works in his tenure. The record of contingency, repair and maintenance expenses, appointments, promotions and postings, budget and expenses of faculty development programme as well as details of foreign tours made on SU’s money were sought.

The varsity was also asked to submit details of the revenue generated through various means, university’s land under encroachment and contracts given for various services obtained by the university. The list of vehicles in use of the VC and his family as well as the fuel cards issued to them was also sought.

Challenged in court

Burfat, however, challenged the investigation in the Sindh High Court, which on November 20 barred ACE from taking ‘coercive action’ against the petitioner. He contended that the ACE lacked the jurisdiction to issue the notice of inquiry to him because his office did not fall under the definition of public servant as defined in Section 2 of Prevention of Corruption Act , 1947.

Besides the inquiry, Burfat has also been confronting scathing criticism and protests against him by Sindh University Teachers Association as well as the officers’ association. Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah and Boards and Universities Secretary issued a show-cause notice on March 22 to Burfat in connection with the corruption allegations. The notice was also challenged in the SHC, which on May 28 put both Shah and Riazuddin on notice for August 21.

The VC contended that the show-cause notice violated the SHC’s November 20, 2018, interim order. As rumours began to circulate about Burfat’s suspension on Thursday, the SU’s spokesman as well as people in the VC’s camp argued that the chief minister cannot remove the VC at least until August 21 when the SHC will take up the petition. Burfat could not be contacted to clarify whether he will step down by accepting the CM’s decision or challenge the notification of his suspension in the court.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2.
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