Karachi University decides that plagiarism is not misconduct – drops charges

It does seem that plagiarism is not considered a very serious matter at Universities in Pakistan.

Karachi University has found a novel way to drop plagiarism charges against 4 academics against whom plagiarism charges were established by an independent committee. They charged the academics with misconduct, took up the matter formally at a Syndicate meeting and then dismissed their own charges since misconduct does not apparently include plagiarism under the University Act!

Karachi University was founded in 1951 and is considered one of the top 3 universities in Pakistan.

If this sounds convoluted – it is as nothing compared to the twists and turns and charges and counter-charges in this 4 year old story. Prof Dr Jalaluddin Ahmed Noori, Prof Dr Najma Sultan, (her husband) Prof Dr Saeed Arayen and Zakia Bibi at the University of Karachi were accused of plagiarism and an investigation committee consisting of  two retired judges and one serving judge of the Sindh High Court found the plagiarism charge to be established. The University then – probably intentionally – charged them with  “misconduct  (and not plagiarism under the Higher Education Commission policy) as mentioned in the University Act”.

The University Syndicate has now dropped all charges – as reported by Dawn

… members of the university syndicate strongly defended the decision and argued that the cases were withdrawn because plagiarism did not fall under the definition of misconduct as mentioned in the university act.

“There is no mention of plagiarism, only of misconduct, in the university act. The act was drafted decades ago and at that time there was no concept of plagiarism in the sense we use the term today,” said KU vice chancellor Prof Dr Qaiser. Other syndicate members had similar opinions. “I don’t think ‘misconduct’ as mentioned in the act covers plagiarism unless it is defined,” said Dr Haris Shoaib.

The syndicate members also said the HEC policy on plagiarism was applicable only in cases in which the offence was committed after 2007 — the year the policy was announced.

In August last year the University of Peshawar also found a way to protect their plagiarising Vice Chancellor. It  reinvented and redefined a plagiarism “threshold” of allowable copying as being 19% for scholarly articles and 25% for theses. And since  the Vice Chancellor had only cheated to the extent of copying 18% of his book from others – what he did was not to be considered plagiarism!!

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