LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Sunday made vice chancellors of three public sector universities resign, announcing the posts would be filled afresh on merit through the newly constituted search committees.
The vice chancellors of Fatima Jinnah Medical University (Rawalpindi), Faisalabad Medical University and Rawalpindi Medical University complied with the order without delay.
But the vice chancellor of Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), Prof Uzma Qureshi, was suspended by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar after she insisted that her appointment had been made on merit and that her career would be tainted if she tendered resignation.
The chief justice told her that the court had full knowledge about the role of Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in her appointment. Prof Qureshi, however, kept saying that her appointment had been made without any political consideration or pressure.
When asked about her relation with the interior minister, she said Mr Iqbal was the student of her father only. “Attempts have been made to malign me,” she added.
CJP Nisar observed that the court could not tolerate any appointment made without transparency.
A two-judge bench headed by the chief justice was hearing a suo motu case about the appointment of vice chancellors at the public universities.
Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafiq, health secretary Najam Shah and higher education secretary Nabeel Awan were present in the court. Minister for Higher Education Syed Ali Raza Gilani also appeared on court’s direction.
The chief justice directed the education minister and secretary to discuss the matter with the chief minister and reconstitute an inquiry committee to decide pending complaints against Prof Qureshi regarding her research work.
The chief justice further directed them to appoint the senior most professor of the university as acting vice chancellor till the appointment of a regular vice chancellor.
Justice Nisar ordered the health minister and secretary to constitute new search committees for the appointment of vice chancellors at the three medical universities. The education secretary told the court that the search committee earlier constituted for the Punjab University could be tasked with the LCWU matter.
The court accepted the suggestion.
Meanwhile, the education secretary stated that the appointment of a regular vice chancellor at the Punjab University would be made by Aug 5. He said that since the university was the biggest institute of the province, a large number of candidates had applied for its top slot and the scrutiny process would take considerable time.
Having been irked with the statement, the chief justice told the secretary that he never came across a DMG officer like him who was trying to protect the interest of political government with all means.
“Who is responsible for over two-year delay in the appointment — secretary, minister or chief minister?” asked the chief justice and observed, “It shows incompetence of the government.”
CJP Nisar directed the secretary to make the appointment of a regular vice chancellor at the Punjab University within six weeks.
He also ordered the government to constitute new search committees for the appointment of vice chancellors at other three medical universities.
Earlier, Prof Dr Zakraya Zakir, who tendered resignation as acting vice chancellor of the Punjab University the other day, urged the court to show compassion in his case. He said he served the university for 28 years with a spotless career.
CJP Nisar snubbed him and said the court was fully conversant with his financial affairs even. “If you want to confront the court, we can refer an inquiry to the Federal Investigation Agency,” the chief justice said to Prof Zakir.
Before concluding the proceedings, the chief justice told the health minister that he was not bound to appear on the next proceedings unless required by the court.
“But keep Khawaja Saad Rafique alert, as anything can happen anytime,” the chief justice asked him on a lighter note.
Khawaja Salman Rafique is younger brother of Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq who is facing a NAB inquiry into a land deal.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018