By Karamat Ali
LAHORE: Transparency in an inquiry into the corruption allegations and irregularities against the Pakistan Institution of Fashion and Designing (PIFD) is being seen with ‘doubts’ as Vice-chancellor Ms Hina Tayyaba Khalil has assigned an additional charge of the lucrative post of the Additional Registrar to the inquiry officer appointed to probe the scam.
According to the official documents available with Daily The Business, on the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, an inquiry officer named Nauman Aslam Sheikh, who is the Executive Director (BS-20/CTG) Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPOP) Islamabad, was designated by the Minister of Commerce and Textile to investigate the alleged financial corruption and irregularities in PIFD.
“The IO was directed to conduct a fact-finding inquiry into the administrative and financial grievances of faculty and staff members of PIFD to complete the said inquiry within 30 days commencing from April 26, 2018, and submit the inquiry report to the ministry and the court,” reads the notification.
The Employees Welfare Association (EWA) of PIFD and aggrieved academic staff speaking to this reporter seeking anonymity expressed their displeasures and grievances over the appointment of the ‘controversial’ inquiry officer.
Terming the VC ‘corrupt’, they alleged Ms Hina had once again tried to dodge the government as well as the affected employees of PIFD.
The institute’s employees further said in response to various petitions filed by the PIFD employees in the SC’s Lahore Registry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan had directed the Ministry of Commerce and Textile through the Deputy Attorney General to hold an inquiry into various complaints of mismanagement, misappropriation, financial embezzlement and malpractices at PIFD.
Moreover, upon the said directions, Hina Tayyaba Khalil in collusion with her aides at Ministry of Commence and Textile (MC&T) appointed a like-minded Inquiry Officer, they added.
They maintained it is a norm that the person against whom an inquiry is initiated, he/she is suspended from the service till the logical conclusion of the same so as to neutralise any influence on a transparent inquiry process. However, in the said case the IO is supposed to directly report to the VC who herself is among those being accounted for hence ruling out any prospect of a fair inquiry process for them.
Another PIFD official requesting anonymity said it was very tragic that the employees of PIFD were never informed that an IO had been nominated.
Adding insult to injury, the VC issued another ‘bogus’ notification that read “Mr Nauman Aslam Sheikh has assumed additional charge of Registrar.”
He said it was never disclosed to the affected employees of PIFD that Nauman was actually an IO, thus his appointment as Registrar is not only mala fide act but also fraudulent.“The employees are further being forced to proceed on summer vacations so they cannot avail any chance of appearing in a fair and transparent inquiry,” he added.
A senior faculty member said the employees of PIFD have lodged their protest against yet another corrupt practice and decided to resort to a legal remedy.
He said it had also been confirmed that an FIR was also being lodged against the VC, Hasib Tahir and Nauman Sheikh under section 420 and other relevant clauses of the Pakistan Penal Code.
When this scribe contacted the woman VC for her version, she requested the reporter to visit her office on Monday.
When this reporter visited the PIFD office on Monday to see Ms Hina she failed to face this reporter for unexplained reasons. Rather an official who identified himself as Abdul-ur-Rehman and focal person of PIF answered partially about some allegations on behalf of VC.
Talking about the additional charge of the Registrar first, he said the PIFD varsity issued a notification on the direction of MC&T and instantly changed his statement said again it was totally domain of the MC&T. However, he said he was not aware of any letter issued by the MC&T about IO.
The focal person during questions and answers somehow admitted that appointing authority for the post of Registrar is only the MC&T.
Rehman denied sending the employees on vacation forcibly, saying local police had informed the varsity about terror threats and accordingly the university was closed.