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UMT vs. Pakistan Bar Council: Summary

Sunday, October 22, 2017
  1. UMT applied to PBC, in accordance with the relevant provisions of Pakistan Bar Council (Recognition of Universities) Rules, 2005, for the recognition of its 5-year LL.B. program through letter No. ORG/PBC/2526/001/01, dated 18 November 2013.
  2. UMT sent a reminder to PBC through letter No. ORG/PBC/2526/001/02, dated 18 March 2014.
  3. On 26 September 2014, Azam Nazeer Tarar, who was the Chairman of Legal Education Committee (LEC) of PBC, gave a talk, titled “Legal Profession in Pakistan,” to UMT’s law students. During the Q&A session, he assured the LL.B. students that PBC would soon grant recognition to UMT’s 5-year LL.B. program. Also, he assured the LL.M. in Commercial law students that PBC would soon prescribe the procedure for the recognition of LL.M. programs in Pakistan. The event took place at UMT.
  4. LEC decided to consider UMT’s application in its meeting scheduled on 13 June 2015 in Lahore. Through letter No. 766/PBC/SEC/2015, dated 09 June 2015, PBC requested the Registrar of UMT to represent UMT before LEC at the above-mentioned meeting.
  5. According to the minutes of the meeting, held on 13 June 2015, issued by LEC, through document No. 980/PBC/SEC/2015, dated 05 August 2015, LEC authorized its Chairman, Azam Nazeer Tarar, and a member, Mohammad Ahsan Bhoon, to inspect UMT and submit their report in order for the matter to be further considered. LEC also observed that UMT’s charter did not specifically empower it to offer legal education--- the charter mentions, among others, social science.
  6. On 30 October 2015, Azam Nazeer Tarar, who was the Chairman of LEC, attended, as the guest of honor, the farewell dinner hosted by UMT for its graduating class of LL.M. in Commercial Law program. He again assured UMT’s law students and alumni that PBC would soon grant recognition to UMT’s 5-year LL.B. program and that PBC would soon prescribe the procedure for the recognition of LL.M. programs in Pakistan.
  7. Contrary to the above-mentioned decision of LEC, Azam Nazeer Tarar and Mohammad Ahsan Bhoon never inspected UMT.
  8. It must be pointed out that between 18 November 2013 and 05 August 2015, PBC granted recognition to the following universities: (i) The University of Lahore, Lahore [w.e.f. 26-12-2013]; (ii) The Leads University, Lahore [provisional w.e.f. 14-03-2015]; (iii) Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Peshawar [provisional w.e.f. 14-03-2015]; (iv) Bahria University, Islamabad [provisional w.e.f. 30-07-2015]; and (v) Qurtuba University, D.I. Khan [provisional w.e.f. 30-07-2015]. The charters of these universities do not specifically empower them to offer legal education.
  9. UMT applied to PBC, in accordance with the relevant provisions of Pakistan Bar Council Legal Education Rules, 2015, for the recognition of its LL.M. in Commercial Law program through letter No. UMT/ORG/2526/01/2016, dated 25 April 2016.
  10. UMT advertised its LL.B. and LL.M. in Commercial Law programs in a university vide advertisement for admissions that was published in Daily Jung on 30 May 2016.
  11. LEC issued a show cause notice to the Registrar of UMT through letter No. 953/PBC/SEC/2016, dated 31 May 2016, regarding the above-mentioned advertisement. UMT, through its lawyer, sent a formal reply, dated 08 June 2016, to the show cause notice. Among other things, UMT requested LEC to adhere to the relevant laws and grant accreditation to UMT’s LL.B. program and LL.M. in Commercial Law program in accordance with the relevant laws.
  12. Through letter No. 2132/PBC/SEC/2016, dated 19 October 2016, PBC informed UMT that LEC had nominated Ch. Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, who was a member of LEC, to inspect UMT on 20 October 2016.
  13. Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan conducted the inspection of UMT on 21 October 2016. He was accompanied by Khawar Bashir [Member, Punjab Bar Council] and Mian Ahtisham [Advocate, High Court]. However, the report of this inspection was not released by PBC.
  14. LEC, through letter No. __/PBC/SEC/2016, dated __ October 2016, invited the Registrar of UMT for a meeting,on 22 October 2016, to discuss the recognition of UMT’s LL.B. program. Accordingly, the Registrar met LEC. However, the minutes of this meeting were not released by PBC.
  15. In the mean time, in good faith, UMT also applied to Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) for the specific authorization to offer legal education. PHEC specifically authorized UMT to offer legal education by approving the creation of faculty of law. UMT communicated this fact to PBC through letter No. UMT/ORG/2526/01/2017, dated 11 May 2017, and also reminded PBC about the accreditation of UMT’s LL.B. and LL.M. in Commercial Law programs. PBC did not respond to this letter.
  16. LEC, through letter No. 579/PBC/SEC/2017, dated 04 July 2017, invited the Registrar of UMT for a meeting, on 07 July 2017, to discuss the recognition of UMT’s LL.B. program.
  17. The registrar of UMT received “Extract from the Minutes of Meeting of Legal Education Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council held on 07-07-2017 at Islamabad” from PBC through document No. 955/PBC/SEC/2017, dated 22 September 2017. The documents has many errors and deficiencies. For instance:
    1. In point/para (i) of the document, it is stated that Ch. Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan could not visit UMT. As already mentioned, Mr. Khan did visit UMT on the evening of 21 October 2016. Khawar Bashir and Mian Ahtisham accompanied Mr. Khan. However, due to reasons unknown to UMT, Mr. Khan never submitted the report.
    2. In point/para (ii) of the document, it has been reiterated that UMT’s charter does not specifically mention that UMT is empowered to impart legal education. First of all, UMT’s charter empowers UMT to impart education in the field of social science. Secondly, it must be pointed out that between 18 November 2013, when UMT applied to PBC for the recognition of its LL.B. program, and 05 August 2015, when PBC/LEC sent the minutes of the meeting mentioned in point/para (ii) of the document mentioned in the subject of this letter, PBC/LEC granted recognition to the following universities: (a) The University of Lahore, Lahore [w.e.f. 26-12-2013]; (b) The Leads University, Lahore [provisional w.e.f. 14-03-2015]; (c) Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Peshawar [provisional w.e.f. 14-03-2015]; (d) Bahria University, Islamabad [provisional w.e.f. 30-07-2015]; and (e) Qurtuba University, D.I. Khan [provisional w.e.f. 30-07-2015]. The charters of these universities did not specifically empower them to offer legal education. How did PBC/LEC grant recognition to these universities? If it is allowed to these universities, why is it not allowed to UMT?
    3. In point/para (iii) of the document, PBC/LEC has questioned the authority of Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) regarding approval of faculty of law at UMT. First of all, PHEC has been established under The Punjab Higher Education Act, 2014 (PHEC Act). Secondly, Section 10 of PHEC Act specifies the powers and functions of PHEC. Among other things, “for the purposes of promotion of higher education, research and development and for bringing provincial higher education institutions at par with national and international standards,” PHEC may: “(b) formulate guidelines and recommend policies in line with national standards prepared by the Higher Education Commission under which public and private institutions may be opened and operated in the Province;…. (d) cause monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the institutions and carry out accreditation of institutions including their sub-campuses, out posts, faculties, departments and disciplines through Accreditation Committee.” According to Section 12 of PHEC Act, “(1) The Government shall constitute an Accreditation Committee including three members of the Commission as members of the Committee. (2) The Accreditation Committee shall make recommendations to the Commission in respect of the following matters: (a) grant of charter for the establishment of institutions in the private sector; (b) addition of new faculties by the private sector institutions.” Section 22 of PHEC Act provides, “The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in other laws.” This should clarify why PHEC has approved the establishment of faculty of law at UMT and what is its legal significance.
    4. In point/para (iv) of the document, it is mentioned that the Chairman of LEC will visit UMT and submit a report. This is the third time that PBC/LEC has tasked someone to inspect UMT. It is sincerely hoped that the inspection will be carried out in accordance with the law and that the report will be submitted in accordance with the law.
  18. The above-stated facts show that PBC has not been acting in accordance with the law regarding the accreditation/recognition of UMT’s LL.B. and LL.M. in Commercial Law program.

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