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PHC stays Mardan varsity’s performance audit

PHC stays Mardan varsity’s performance audit

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday issued a stay order against the performance audit of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan by an accountancy firm on the orders of the provincial higher education department.

Justice Mussarat Hilali and Justice Mohammad Taheem also asked the provincial chief secretary and higher education secretary to file separate replies to the AWKU petition against the ‘illegal’ HED order for the performance audit and fixed the next hearing for Sept 3.

On May 29, 2015, the HED secretary had formally asked the university to get its performance audit done by an Islamabad-based firm, Deloitte Chartered Accountants, instead of regular audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan and Higher Education Commission.

The petitioner said the HED had made an agreement with the said firm on March 12, 2015, to carry out performance audit of public sector universities in the province but necessary amendments were made to the KP Universities Act, 2012, for the purpose in May.

Rehmanullah Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, said performance audit of the universities were conducted by the HEC each year and that evaluation were published online on its website for general public.

He added that as per ranking of the HEC AWKU stood second in the province and 12th in the country among general category universities.

The lawyer said the accountancy firm had through a letter on June 2, 2015, asked the university for audit from the day the university was set up until 2013. He said the necessary amendments were made to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Act in May 2015 and therefore, the same could not be applied to the university with retrospective effect as it went against the Constitution.

The lawyer said Section 38 of the Universities Act provided procedure for the audit of universities.

He said under Article 169 and 170 of the Constitution, the AGP was empowered to carry out the audit of the university through the deputy auditor general (provincial audit).

The lawyer added that the overlapping if audit jurisdiction and control would ultimately be a hindrance to smooth running of the affairs of the university.

He said previous performance audits of the university had been conducted by the audit department since the establishment of the university and that if the government had any concern it might ask the audit department for previous audit reports.

The lawyer requested the court to declare the May 29, 2015 notification of the department illegal and direct the provincial government to act in accordance with law.

The respondents in the petition are the provincial government through the chief secretary, HED secretary and deputy secretary (administration) and Deloitte Chartered Accountant Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2015

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