KARACHI: As the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is continuing to investigate malpractices at Karachi University, its administration is struggling to regularise the several political appointments and promotions made during the past many years, sources told Dawn on Monday.
Part of these efforts includes the recently-held selection boards of non-teaching staff, perhaps the largest one in decades at the university, they said.
“The exercise has been carried out to ward off pressure from investigative agencies; first it was the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against which the university went to court and succeeded to stop its inquiries by getting a decision in its favour; later it was NAB.
“Ninety-five per cent of candidates who lack the eligibility criteria for different posts have been recommended for appointment,” said a senior teacher, who is also part of the university syndicate sub-committee set-up to look into complaints submitted against the appointment recommendations of the selection boards.
Anomalies in advertisement
According to sources, it was in 2009 when the finance director raised concerns over employees hired on a contract basis who were later upgraded multiple times without passing a single selection board. He recommended that the selection board for such employees needed to be called within six months.
The administration, however, took notice of the advice last year and an advertisement was published in national newspapers seeking applicants for non-teaching staff for grade-17 and above in various categories.
“The advertisement had anomalies and was drafted in a way to suit internal candidates. For instance, the academic qualification required for the post of deputy director human resource management, and director quality enhancement cell, both grade-18 posts, was different. In the first case, a first division was required but in the other a second division,” a syndicate member said.
A major criticism against the selection boards was also that no short-listing or entry tests were conducted and all applicants were called.
“A total of 495 candidates were called for interview in the selection boards held in March, May and April to appoint around 40 individuals against 26 job titles,” said a teacher, adding that except the selection board held on May 6 with four members in session, only three members attended the proceedings in the remaining selection boards.
The selection board in one case, he said, recommended as many as 12 candidates for the post of assistant registrar with condition subject to the availability of a vacant post. “That showed the administration was not aware of the number of posts available for appointment, thus creating doubts over the entire exercise.”
Soon after the selection boards held amid protests by the non-teaching staff, the administration received a large number of complaints against the selection process and the syndicate had to set-up a committee to look into these complaints.
Though none of the committee members were willing to share their observations on record, sources said they had rejected a number of appointment recommendations of the selection boards.
“We still don’t know about the true eligibility criteria of those we have been chosen as our judgement entirely depended upon the information passed on to us by the administration,” said one of the members on condition of anonymity, adding that if the administration was fair in its intentions it should have scrutinised all applications or, at least, made it mandatory for them to pass an entry test.
Upon contact, KU registrar Moazzam Ali Khan argued that the selection board was only an advisory body and that the syndicate could reject any of its recommendations.
“A three-member selection board can hold the proceedings under the university code. Short-listing couldn’t be done on account of concerns that a scrutiny body has no legitimacy under university rules and can be challenged at a later stage,” he explained.
He rejected the perception that the exercise was done under pressure and said the advertisement for appointments was published more than a year ago when no inquiry was pending against the university.
Objections on the advertisement, he said, had now led the syndicate to devise a mechanism to review university ads in the future.
When asked about the number of internal candidates recommended for appointment, he said: “The syndicate sub-committee has completed its findings about the complaints and will present them in the next syndicate session. Besides, we are also in the process of verifying degrees of hired as well as of soon-to-be hired employees,” he observed.
This is the first time in many years that the university had held selection boards for non-teaching staff, a fact which should be appreciated, he noted.
Courtesy : Dawn News