The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday issued a written order setting aside a notification issued by the Punjab Higher Education Secretary which had barred candidates who have had a five-year gap in their education from obtaining admissions in the province's educational institutes.
The court held that the ban was unconstitutional and that the secretary acted without authority, as the responsibility of creating policy lies with the cabinet while the role of the secretary is limited to ensuring its implementation.
The decision was made by Justice Atir Mehmood on a petition filed by a woman who was denied an admission into an intermediate college after having discontinued her studies for over five years following her matriculation.
The petitioner had said that she had been unable to continue her education following her marriage but decided to get an admission after her divorce.
She argued that she was denied admission in a Faisalabad college based on a notification issued by the provincial higher education secretary, which was against her fundamental rights as a citizen of Pakistan.
The court upheld her petition, setting aside the notification. The court held that a policy should be based on "sound reasons, rational and it should be in accordance with the law". However, the judge said, the only rationale he could find for upholding the policy was that the "same aged group candidates may not be disturbed by adult students in the institutions."
Nonetheless, "the right of education cannot be denied to any citizen of the country at any stage of their age," Justice Mahmood held.