NAB vs Vice Chancellors: Witch-Hunt in the Name of Accountability

nab VCs

NAB vs Vice Chancellors: Witch-Hunt of the Weak and Vulnerable in the Name of Accountability

The images of two retired Vice Chancellors of public sector universities being handcuffed and taken to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) courts under police custody has shocked the conscience of the nation in general and the academic community in particular. This episode raises questions about the capacity of NAB to apprehend the privileged, the powerful, and the untouchables.

The first question which comes to mind in relation to this incident is whether the cases under consideration are serious enough to justify interference by the top anti-graft body of the country. Anti-corruption watchdogs across the globe operate on the principle that only those individuals should be targeted whose prosecution will yield enough recovery to justify spending of state resources on their prosecution. Considering the social status of university heads in Pakistan, this is but natural to assume that prosecution of retired Vice Chancellors, even if charges are proved against them, is unlikely to yield the desired results.

The allegation against one of the Vice Chancellors is that he sold the name of the university to private owners by allowing them to open private campuses under its franchise. The private owners in turn flaunted the university rules and regulations while giving admissions and awarding degrees. The other Vice Chancellor is charged for giving the university’s land to the provincial government, making irregular appointments and giving the position of departmental head to his wife, in violation of rules. Nowhere in the world are these allegations taken to be of sufficient gravity to allow the principal anti-graft body to start prosecutorial action.

At best, these can be treated as cases of misuse of authority, irregularities and nepotism warranting departmental action, or trial before regular anti-corruption courts. Had these cases been tried before ordinary courts, the elderly Vice Chancellors would have been facing trials as ordinary accused entitled to the concession of bail, instead of making news headlines in handcuffs, inviting public attention and sympathy. It appears that the honourable superior courts need to set guidelines with respect to the magnitude of corruption and the justification of prosecutorial action by NAB.

Secondly, the PTI-led government needs to do some soul searching with regard to its policies on anti-corruption. In response to the Prime Minister’s call for crackdown against corruption, NAB authorities have become overzealous, and in their effort to show performance they are putting hands on insignificant targets like retired Vice Chancellors of public sector universities from whom very little can be recovered. On the other hand, big shots like property tycoons and corrupt bureaucrats are still on the loose to plunder public wealth with impunity because NAB is too afraid to lay hands on them.

Additionally, PM’s obsession with corruption has given departmental heads an opportunity to settle score with their predecessors and shift the blame on them for everything wrong with their institutions. This shifting of blame is easier because a retired individual is weak, vulnerable and defenseless. Hence, the ongoing trials of the former Vice Chancellors would be seen as nothing but retaliation and witch-hunting of the powerless. It is high time for the government to realize that NAB’s resources should be spent on cases where huge recoveries are anticipated and where the gravity of the offence justifies that treatment.

There is no denying the fact that strong measures should be taken to curb the menace of corruption, however, while taking these measures the possibility of cases motivated by grudge and vendetta should not be ruled out altogether. Furthermore, at least some respect should be shown to the elderly members of the teaching community. After all, they are thought to be the builders of the nation and they don’t have to be handcuffed as there is hardly any chance of their abscondence.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which he might be associated.

Dr Usman Hameed

The writer holds a PhD in Law from the University of Glasgow, UK.



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One Comment;

  1. Syed farzand Ali Shah said:

    NAB vs Vice Chancellors: Witch-Hunt of the Weak and Vulnerable in the Name of Accountability 2 days ago Today is October 20, 2018
    The images of two retired Vice Chancellors of public sector universities being handcuffed and taken to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) courts under police custody has shocked the conscience of the nation in general and the academic community in particular. This episode raises questions about the capacity of NAB to apprehend the privileged, the powerful, and the untouchables.
    The first question which comes to mind in relation to this incident is whether the cases under consideration are serious enough to justify interference by the top anti-graft body of the country. Anti-corruption watchdogs across the globe operate on the principle that only those individuals should be targeted whose prosecution will yield enough recovery to justify spending of state resources on their prosecution. Considering the social status of university heads in Pakistan, this is but natural to assume that prosecution of retired Vice Chancellors, even if charges are proved against them, is unlikely to yield the desired results.
    The allegation against one of the Vice Chancellors is that he sold the name of the university to private owners by allowing them to open private campuses under its franchise. The private owners in turn flaunted the university rules and regulations while giving admissions and awarding degrees. The other Vice Chancellor is charged for giving the university’s land to the provincial government, making irregular appointments and giving the position of departmental head to his wife, in violation of rules. Nowhere in the world are these allegations taken to be of sufficient gravity to allow the principal anti-graft body to start prosecutorial action.
    At best, these can be treated as cases of misuse of authority, irregularities and nepotism warranting departmental action, or trial before regular anti-corruption courts. Had these cases been tried before ordinary courts, the elderly Vice Chancellors would have been facing trials as ordinary accused entitled to the concession of bail, instead of making news headlines in handcuffs, inviting public attention and sympathy. It appears that the honourable superior courts need to set guidelines with respect to the magnitude of corruption and the justification of prosecutorial action by NAB.
    Secondly, the PTI-led government needs to do some soul searching with regard to its policies on anti-corruption. In response to the Prime Minister’s call for crackdown against corruption, NAB authorities have become overzealous, and in their effort to show performance they are putting hands on insignificant targets like retired Vice Chancellors of public sector universities from whom very little can be recovered. On the other hand, big shots like property tycoons and corrupt bureaucrats are still on the loose to plunder public wealth with impunity because NAB is too afraid to lay hands on them.
    Additionally, PM’s obsession with corruption has given departmental heads an opportunity to settle score with their predecessors and shift the blame on them for everything wrong with their institutions. This shifting of blame is easier because a retired individual is weak, vulnerable and defenseless. Hence, the ongoing trials of the former Vice Chancellors would be seen as nothing but retaliation and witch-hunting of the powerless. It is high time for the government to realize that NAB’s resources should be spent on cases where huge recoveries are anticipated and where the gravity of the offence justifies that treatment.
    There is no denying the fact that strong measures should be taken to curb the menace of corruption, however, while taking these measures the possibility of cases motivated by grudge and vendetta should not be ruled out altogether. Furthermore, at least some respect should be shown to the elderly members of the teaching community. After all, they are thought to be the builders of the nation and they don’t have to be handcuffed as there is hardly any chance of their abscondence.

    Honourable Sir Dr Usman Hameed! I went through your wonderful article but there are some reservations. Please allow me though neither I am articulate nor trying to impose something out of the way. These are my bitter experiences. The nation builders are true teachers and not the cheaters who used to cheat pupils, subordinates, embezzle university funds and play the role of a diabolic boss
    ‘NAB’s custody really ‘… has shocked the conscience of the nation … and the academic community. …’
    1. Agreed
    ‘This episode raises questions about the capacity of NAB to apprehend the privileged, the powerful, and the untouchables.’
    2. Agreed
    ‘The first question which comes to mind in relation to this incident is whether the cases under consideration are serious enough to justify interference by the top anti-graft body of the country.’
    3. Right
    ‘Anti-corruption watchdogs across the globe operate on the principle that only those individuals should be targeted whose prosecution will yield enough recovery to justify spending of state resources on their prosecution.’
    4. Why? Justice for all
    However, ‘Considering the social status of university heads in Pakistan, this is but natural to assume that prosecution of retired Vice Chancellors, even if charges are proved against them, is unlikely to yield the desired results.’
    5. Wrong approach. I am afraid that such a learned person dwells in the pitch darkness of ignorance. (Then what would say about a common man) However, with certain exceptions of God fearing people their faces are so ugly to the extent of debauchery and embezzlement of millions of the University money while destroying the assets intellectual as well as sources. Moreover, the worst kind of victimization of righteous persons, applying resources to destroy and usurp their rights, targeting even their offshoot while using the lethal weapon of propagation, totally false and having no iota of truth, character assassination, plotting and evil design to destroy the career and harassment to such level that one either commit suicide or escape from the scene the dark sheet of night leaving behind spoor. The y neither innocent nor educationist rather monsters who swallow many persons’ life and future. Please investigate and then settle down to write. The reason of my suggestion is that I am impressed because of your commendable knowledge and style of articulation. So it shocked me that man of your caliber can commit mistake rather blunder and I proceed further SIN
    While … ‘making irregular appointments and giving the position of departmental head to his wife, in violation of rules.’
    6. Your approach is incorrect. They used to appoint their favorites for the ulterior motives and not for the sacred cause of literacy and education. Then they impose them on their seniors, making space for them, supersede them, while some purchasable commodities among students are purchased and used against the real educationists without surprise this is a common phenomenon in the several universities of Sindh.
    ‘Nowhere in the world are these allegations taken to be of sufficient gravity to allow the principal anti-graft body to start prosecutorial action.’
    7. Your Honour! You are earnestly requested to see things in the perspective of a world around us. Here murderer gets bail and he shows his victory sign to the people and the press, without any twinge … No regret as it seems that the conscience is either removed or dead. Here corrupt persons are offered bouquets and used to get reward of a crown of solid pure gold. Bribe in cash and kind exists and definitely this does not happen mostly in the developed countries.
    ‘At best, these can be treated as cases of misuse of authority, irregularities and nepotism warranting departmental action, or trial before regular anti-corruption courts.’
    8. Not only faulty notion but extremely perilous. It is not as simple as misuse of authority ruin people and the worst sufferers are family members especially the children of the victims. I experienced the flames of hell and the pangs of pain are at the rampant because there is no dearth of weapons of atrocities in the arsenal.
    ‘Had these cases been tried before ordinary courts, the elderly Vice Chancellors would have been facing trials as ordinary accused entitled to the concession of bail, …
    9. So a professor can suffer monetarily, physically, socially, and mental tortures. Then there are never ending agonies because of the degradation of highly educated person by the learned Vice Chancellors and their cronies and hiring of professional killers to harass or to teach lesson to persons endeavoring for their basic rights. Such state of affairs is not something more than the worst.
    ‘… instead of making news headlines in handcuffs, inviting public attention and sympathy.’
    10. However, wall chalking, dozens of fake inquires, scores of explanations with plethora of lies whereas falsifications before the media all are sane actions. My respectable learned Sir! these are more than the worst.
    ‘It appears that the Honourable superior courts need to set guidelines with respect to the magnitude of corruption and the justification of prosecutorial action by NAB.’
    11. Excuse me My Lord! No discrimination and justice for all and sundry must be exercised with expeditious trial and prompt justice without any bias because delay’s dictum nullifies the cause as I know the cramp of the dithering tactics and that is the most pleasurable weapon. My petitions of pension, promotions and etc are before the superior court with a history of decades.
    ‘NAB authorities have become overzealous, and in their effort to show performance they are putting hands on insignificant targets like retired Vice Chancellors of public sector universities from whom very little can be recovered.’
    12. Incorrect. Please do not spare any culprit. Allow the justice to take its course if one is innocent then the individual must be supported and compensated but if it is otherwise, the person who has been pleaded guilty must pay the price of the offense.
    ‘On the other hand, big shots like property tycoons and corrupt bureaucrats are still on the loose to plunder public wealth with impunity because NAB is too afraid to lay hands on them.’
    13. No second opinion but with an additional phrase speedy justice without any prejudice. The same truth covers in case of powerful Vice Chancellors. NAB failed to initiate actions on years’ filed references.
    ‘Additionally, PM’s obsession with corruption has given departmental heads an opportunity to settle score with their predecessors and shift the blame on them for everything wrong with their institutions. This shifting of blame is easier because a retired individual is weak, vulnerable and defenseless. Hence, the ongoing trials of the former Vice Chancellors would be seen as nothing but retaliation and witch-hunting of the powerless.’
    14. The bitter observations are otherwise
    ‘It is high time for the government to realize that NAB’s resources should be spent on cases where huge recoveries are anticipated and where the gravity of the offence justifies that treatment.’
    15. Quick justice for all without any concessions to an offender.
    There is no denying the fact that strong measures should be taken to curb the menace of corruption, however, while taking these measures the possibility of cases motivated by grudge and vendetta should not be ruled out altogether.’
    16. Okay
    ‘Furthermore, at least some respect should be shown to the elderly members of the teaching community. After all, they are thought to be the builders of the nation and they don’t have to be handcuffed as there is hardly any chance of their abscondence’
    Your Lordship is hereby requested to peep in to the matters of the private sector Universities of Sindh. NAB has done nothing to this date against the authorities sitting and retired regarding their alleged corruption, unlawful exercise of authority, victimization of weaker persons, usurping rights of age bent persons. Simply enquiries are underway.
    I with meager income faced many obnoxious actions from the powerful Vice chancellor (s) and the cronies and helped to recover millions of appropriated money in the past along with others and paid and still paying price of the sins of the people who were at the helm of affairs. I ran from pillars to the post for my basic rights – guaranteed by the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and decades passed. Now I am 72+ and the diabolic authorities are hell bent to torture me, where I suffer physically (I used to travel from Hyderabad that is my residential abode to the High Court Bench @ Sukkur (about 350 km away) while adjournments occur several time and the counsel or the University officials failed to appear before the Honourble Court (Hardly 25 km away from the court). They, in case of appearance, used to receive before the Honourable High Court TA/DA/ and perks whatsoever is permissible whereas I have to take up journey in the deadly hours of night risking mine and my son’s life, as law and order conditions have always been chaotic in a hired car. Besides I am heart and asthma patient. of Consequently along with physical sufferings, mental agonies, financial losses with the insults perpetrated by the known quarters that kill again and again as the practice in vogue since 2006.
    While That the petitioner, therefore, filed petition bearing CP NO:D-1002 of 1994 in this Honorable Court, which was disposed of by the order dated:26/01/1997 in view of section 3-E of civil servants (amendment) Act in the Sindh Service Tribunal act 1973 as dismissed.
    19. That petitioner referred appeal NO.132 of 1997 before the Sindh Service tribunal Karachi and The Learned Registrar put his hand on the pledge on behalf of the Learned Vice Chancellor that the university will address the grievances of the petitioner.
    The averment of 1998 had been shelved/put in the cold storage
    The concept of social equality and classlessness turned the world upside down but the dream never turned into reality and the truth crossed out, shamelessly or brokered rather butchered mercilessly when the unwarranted and unfair activities of some of the black coats defaced the image of the entire community of our legal representatives. The glaring example of such obnoxious activities is perpetrated in my matters. I suffered at the hands of heartless bosses with the help of aforesaid people and compelled me to run from pillars to post, in the corridors of judicial empires and in the crooked ways of legal opportunism. I am the history of 26 years of litigations and still in the outskirt of the realm of – truth, rights and legal supervision. (Justice delayed/ denied?)This is besides the insulting attitude of some Honourable judges (I don’t know whether it is a judicial activism/not), judicial staff (ranging from the smallest to the highest personnel), degradation, physical suffering, mental torturing and financial losses. (Please mark that I used to travel from Hyderabad to Sukkur, every month despite my cardiologist’s restriction. I am 72+ but my appeals of transfer of my petitions were ignored with a callous attitude. Technically it was dumped but after a great search the request was found in one of the files of the Hounourable Court’s staff office. Then a letter was received that a lawyer’s free services were bestowed upon me. I have a great regard for the judiciary as this is the only resort for the weak people like me otherwise all systems are rotten). As far as the local influence is concerned on the legal staff of the Sukkur Circuit Bench, the less said the better. But all is evident from the number of my petitions listed in the cause list and that is nothing but a sad and dismal history.
    However, in my cases violation of the constitution of Pakistan is apparent besides the contraventions and infraction of rule of law. The paragraphs 4, 5, & 8 of the preamble of our constitution and are given, respectively, below:
    “Whereas the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed;
    Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in Quran and Sunnah;”
    Wherein guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law, and public morality;”
    Art.3. Then “elimination of exploitation” where there is assurance of all forms of exploitation, and the gradual fulfillment of the fundamental principle, from each according to his ability to each according to his work.
    Art.4. Rights of individuals to be dealt with law, etc – (1) To enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law is the inalienable (immutable & unchallengeable) right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every person, and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan. In particular (a) no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law;
    (b) no person shall be prevented from or hindered in doing that which is prohibited by law, and
    Art. 11. Slavery, forced labour etc., prohibited. – (1) Slavery is non-existent and forbidden and no law shall permit or facilitate its introduction into Pakistan in any form.
    Art.14. Inviolability (holiness/ sacredness) of dignity of man, etc. – (1). The dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable.
    (Art. 19-A, Right to information – Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law)
    25. Equality of citizens. – (1). All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to protection of law
    25- A. Right to education (if it is applicable), The state will provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.
    27. Safeguard against discrimination in services. – (1) No citizen otherwise qualified to appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only on race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth.
    Art. 19-A confirms the Right to have access to information
    The Constitution of Pakistan provides in its article 19-A that every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance, subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law. But I have always been denied. So these vice chancellors are very diabolic and play the perilous role of monsters with some exceptions.
    The vagueness exists in law, I admit. But sometimes ambiguity is created as an implementation of the weapon of delaying tactics. The unbearable action may be in accordance with the smoke and mirror strategy for deception and fraudulent of a tricky magician, where one’s created false impression or fantasy that appears as of viewer’s imagination. The magician used to make objects come into sight and disappear according to the sweet will of the tricky performer. He used to retract mirrors amid a sidetracking burst of smoke. Such magician remains in charge of temptation, hallucination and one is embellished with skill and cleverness in carrying out such a scam and dodge. The sidetracking and departure from law in letter and spirit cannot be appreciated while the cunning and crafty rising and falling road approach – give temporary strength and it becomes the insignia of the proverbial rolling stone that gathers no mass. This conventional stone is meaningful but embarrassing if we stretch our flight of imagination.
    Then it comes to our world of truth marked with radiance, flush of moral code and conscience though that shows apparently the paucity and rareness yet its followers and devotees – they all are die heart and staunch believers in the faith of truth and nothing but the truth dictum that rules the world of legal posterity or all generations of people who come after us, will be ‘nearest’ to the highest rate of success. It might have some additional quality that is inducted in with the descendants or inheritors. They may become the leading light like stars of heaven and bliss for propinquity and close relationship with the nations who have achieved the highest goal of the professional excellence.
    There are several instances of truth and precision just opposite to intricacies and contraventions but this article does not sustain such gigantic and herculean task to perform. Such lawyers are habitually adhered to truth in declaration, in words and script. Their life is a symbol of eternal verities and the quality of being true – has become a truism in the shape of their existence. They alter and interpret law for the benefits of the humankind. They never take advantage of legal ambiguities or try to fool around with others for the personal gains. So they are not ready to beautify their deliberations with falsification. Their ruminations and deep thoughts are for-the ground realities of life and humanity. Such are the people who never pose any danger to law, people and the conscience. They used to remain solicitous about the needy. Such caring and appealing lawyers are the bright stars on the firmament of our planet. They never try to influence the audience, judges and the client (s). While cherry picking persons who consciously suppress evidence and propagate the erroneous belief (fallacy) with misleading notion of incomplete verification is the act of negation of fact that may contradict that position of truth.
    Anyhow the punch line is that in order to get my rights my 26 long precious years have been wasted and eventually I went to the court while still I am before the Honourable judges. Now my seniors (my sons) are pleading my petitions for promotions, pension & etc. These years made my sons lawyers and I also put on the black coat as a practicing lawyer but before them the fraternity of lawyers played havoc and for the same it is less said the better.

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