Chief Justice (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday ordered the removal of Punjab University's Vice Chancellor (VC) Zakaria Zakar during the hearing of a case pertaining to the provincial government's takeover of 80 kanals of the varsity's land earlier this year.

The chief justice ordered authorities to appoint the senior most professor of the university as the interim VC.

Dr Zakar was appointed PU's provisional VC by the Punjab government in January this year after Zaffar Mueen Nasar resigned citing "unavoidable circumstances". Nasar had opposed the provincial government's demands to hand over 80 kanals of the university's land to a religious party for constructing a seminary.

According to the university calendar, the senior most professor should be appointed as acting VC. Professor Taqi Zahid Butt is the senior most professor in the PU but he was not chosen for the role, and Dr Zakar was appointed instead. It is not yet clear if professor Butt will replace Zakar on CJP's orders.

Justice Nisar had taken a suo motu notice of the matter at the request of a professor from the Punjab University Law College and was hearing the case at the Supreme Court's Lahore registry.

He expressed anger at authorities' apparent failure to "appoint a permanent VC in over two years" as well as the syndicate's agreement to hand over the varsity's property to the authorities.

"It has been proven that a permanent VC is not being appointed so that the government's demands — whether legal or illegal — can be fulfilled," Justice Nisar said. He also summoned PU syndicate's members who had allegedly agreed to government's demands for university land to demand an explanation.

The Punjab government had asked the university to give up its Old Campus sports ground to a religious party to build a seminary in compensation for the land acquired by the authorities near Chauburji for the Orange Line Train project.