PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Monday directed the provincial governor and officials concerned to ‘interfering’ in the affairs of the historical Edwardes College, Peshawar, until further order.
Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan and Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan issued the order over a petition filed by Peshawar Diocese Bishop Humphery Sarfaraz Peter, who claimed that the college was a private entity and interference in its affairs by the government’s functionaries was illegal.
The bench issued notices to respondents, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through its chief secretary and higher education secretary, asking them to respond to the petition.
A controversy has surrounded the management of the college, which was established in 1900, as traditionally, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor act as the chairman of the board of governors (BoG), but in a judgment delivered by the high court in 2016, it was ruled that Edwardes College was not a public sector college and it was private entity.
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On May 9, a letter was sent to the college’s principal, retired Brigadier Dr Nayer Fardows, by the Governor’s Secretariat saying a meeting of the BoG will be called shortly to discuss his tenure after its expiry.
The Governor’s Secretariat had directed the principal to concentrate on the academic and administrative activities on the day-to-day basis and avoid taking major policy decisions, including appointment and removal of both teaching and administrative staff members, until the BoG decides about his term in office.
The petitioner, Bishop Humphery Sarfaraz Peter, said he was the BoG chairman and moderator of the Church of Pakistan and the Diocesan Committee had authorised him on Mar 15 to take all possible legal action against any interference from the governor, the government, its high officials or any individual in the college’s affairs.
Khalid Mahmood, lawyer for the petitioner, said the college’s administration and its affairs were controlled and managed by BoG established under its constitution and the Bishop, Diocese of Peshawar, Church of Pakistan and being chairman of the BoG, looked after its affairs.
He said a petition against the BoG was dismissed on Mar 22, 2016, with the court declaring the Edwardes College a private educational institution and not a statutory body.
The lawyer said the KP governor, without having any locus standi, had been posing himself as the BoG chairman and had issued a letter on Mar 6, 2019, summoning a meeting of the board on Mar 8.
He, however, added that when the judgment was brought in his notice, the meeting was postponed.
The lawyer said an illegal letter was issued by the secretary higher education on Feb 19, 2019, through which detail information was sought from public sector companies and the name of Edwardes College was also placed in it.
He added that the governor issued another letter on May 8 wherein he had posed himself as BoG’s Chairman and had directed to submit revise budget estimate for the year 2018-19 and budget for 2019-20 for consideration of BoG.
The lawyer requested the court to declare Edwardes College a private educational institution and stop the governor and other government functionaries from interfering in the administrative and other affairs.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2019