A division bench of Lahore High Court (LHC), headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah has allowed the vice-chancellors (VCs) of seven public sector universities to continue with their offices on permanent basis while withdrawing LHC’s earlier decision of December 19.
On the last hearing of the case, the bench had allowed these VCs to work provisionally till the final decision of the Intra-Court Appeal (ICA) filed by the Punjab government. These seven VCs took charge of their offices on August 27, 2015, but their fates were in jeopardy when the appointments of four other VCs were challenged in the court.
The seven VCs include Dr Samina Amin Qadir (Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi), Dr Hassan Amir Shah (Government College University, Lahore), Dr Rauf-i-Azam (University of Education, Lahore), Dr Tahir Amin (Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan), Dr Muhammad Khalique Ahmed (Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan), Dr Talat Afzal (Government Sadiq Degree College for Women University, Bahawalpur) and Dr Athar Mahboob (Khawaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology, Rahim Yar Khan).
Justice Shahid Karim of LHC had declared illegal the appointments of VCs of Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Sargodha (UoS), Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology (MNS-UET) Multan, and University of the Punjab on December 1 on a petition filed by Dr Aurangzeb Alamgir, Samee Uzair Khan and some others. The Punjab government filed an intra-court appeal against the decision of single-member bench of Justice Shahid Karim and then the division bench headed by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah appointed the VCs in these four universities while giving the remarks that court would not accept the old guards as VCs.
Dr Rukhsana Kausar, Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, Dr Muhammad Zubeir and Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasar were given the acting charge for the interim set-up in Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Sargodha (UoS), Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology (MNS-UET) Multan, and University of the Punjab, respectively.
Punjab Advocate General Shakilur Rehman Khan told the bench during Thursday’s hearing that the matter of the seven universities was mistakenly made part of the proceedings in hand as the appointments of only four VCs were challenged. The bench withdrew its earlier order to the extent of seven varsities at that point and sought a detailed reply from Higher Education Commission (HEC) by Monday.
The next hearing of the case was fixed for January 16 (Monday) and there will be day-to-day proceedings of the case from Monday, the bench observed.
Samee Uzair Khan, former principal of Punjab University Law College and one of the petitioners of the case, told Pakistan Today that the bench questioned the criteria of the search committee that selected the VCs for public sector universities. “How it is possible that the same search committee selects the vice-chancellor of an agricultural university and an engineering university,” he questioned and added that there must be separate search committees for each university.