The last straw: Faculty members challenge ‘illegal’ appointments at LUMHS

Petition claims that retired, unqualified people appointed to top positions


Our Correspondent December 17, 2016
LUMHS teachers association calls for removal of retired registrar. PHOTO: EXPRESS

HYDERABAD: After unyielding rounds of protests and registering of complaints with the authorities, faculty members have now challenged in court the alleged illegal appointments in Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro.

"The high-handedness on the part of the incumbent management while appointing retired persons on management positions and less qualified people on teaching posts over the past some years has brought dreadful results," contended the petitioners while pointing out their varsity's drop to the eighth slot in the Higher Education Commission's ranking.

Prof of medicine Dr Sohail Ahmed Almani and Prof of surgery Dr Abdul Aziz Laghari are among the seven faculty members who have taken up the issue in the Sindh High Court.

They claimed that at least 10 key positions in the university are currently occupied by such officers, blaming vice-chancellor Prof Dr Noshad A Shaikh for these appointments.

Prof Muneer Junejo, who, according to the petitioners, retired in February, 2016, was appointed two months later as pro-vice chancellor of LUMHS for a period of four years on Prof Dr Shaikh's recommendation.

Roshan Bhatti was appointed as the varsity's registrar. He retired in 2015 and had his retirement benefits rescinded by the Sindh government, allegedly due to corruption. Similarly, controller of examinations Dr Akram Shaikh, director of planning and development Umer Memon and campus administrator and security consultant Colonel (retd) Ghulam Abbass are also retired persons, according to the petition.

They also pointed out a BPS-18 officer, Hina Talpur, has been given the BPS-20 charge of finance director.

"... the appointments, whether of the retired persons or on contract basis, are made neither due to ignorance of such rules and regulations nor under any genuine emergency ... but are purely exaggerated use of authority beyond legal jurisdiction," the faculty members argued.

They informed the court that on November 8, 2016, secretary to the provincial chief minister for universities and boards wrote to all universities in Sindh to clarify that no retired person or anyone serving on a contract basis, deputation or own pay scale basis should be employed. That letter went on to warn that any non-compliance will be considered a violation of the Supreme Court's order with regard to such appointments.

Earlier on October 5, the Sindh chief secretary also sent a similar letter to the higher education institutions in the province, they added.

According to the petitioners, over the past several years the university's existing management has been appointing staff on six-month contracts, which, after a few years, ends up in the regularisation of their service. "The very fact compels them to obey all legal or illegal orders of the university's management," the petitioners alleged.

They apprised the court that several times they requested the VC to stop the practice but to no avail. "[We] issued press releases in the media and approached high officials many times but all in vain."

The petitioners pleaded to the court to declare all such appointments in the varsity and its Bilawal Medical College illegal. They further prayed that the court would order the university to submit a list of the employees who were appointed on contracts and later regularised, as well as the funds used to pay salaries to officers serving on contracts, deputations and in violation of the apex court's judgment.

The bench, after hearing the petitioners' counsel, directed the respondents on Friday to submit a reply by January 22, 2017. The chief secretary, secretary of universities and boards, health secretary, LUMHS VC, registrar, director of finance and Pakistan Medical and Dental Council have been named as respondents in the case.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2016.

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