LAHORE - The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday strongly criticised the working of various private universities and observed that they had ruined the education system and made it their business to make money. The court also lashed out at the authorities that were supposed to monitor the working of the educational institutions but had failed in discharging their duties. The working of the private educational institutions came under scrutiny when a two-judge bench took up a suo motu notice on the subject.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar sought from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) regarding all private universities across the province, their sub campuses and affiliated colleges. The court also ordered Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to hold an inquiry into the irregularities, committed by the University of South Asia (USA) in granting affiliation to colleges.

The bench had taken notice regarding non-issuance of degrees to students of an affiliated college of the University of South Asia. During the hearing, an HEC official told the bench that the said university was established in 2005, under an act of the Punjab Assembly. However, the university was barred from giving affiliation to colleges or opening sub-campuses for 10 years.  However, it committed violation of the order and gave affiliation to colleges, he added. He said that notices were issued to the university, but it did not take any action in this regard.

USA Vice Chancellor Imran Masood informed the bench that admissions were closed after 2016, and the admission process was started after completion of the restriction period.

He further submitted that chancellor's approval was required for opening new campuses, but not for giving affiliation to colleges. At this, the chief justice observed that such universities had devastated the education system and made it a business whereas monitoring institutions failed to take any action against them.

To a court query regarding lack of action against the university, the HEC official submitted that only the provincial higher education department was authorised to take action in this regard. Subsequently, the bench appointed Advocate Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri and Advocate Uzair Bhandari as amicus curie in the matter and sought a report from them. The bench also issued notices to all private universities in Punjab and directed the HEC to also issue notice to them individually and seek response. The bench also directed Advocate General Punjab to take up the matter with the Punjab governor, being the chancellor of the universities.