PESHAWAR: Regretting the ‘declining’ educational standards at the Edwardes College, Peshawar, the Peshawar High Court has directed the government to take corrective measures to restore the glory of the province’s oldest college.

“The authorities at the helm of affairs are directed to seriously look into the matter and make strenuous efforts to restore the trust of students and their parents and revive the past glory of the oldest college of the province,” a bench observed in the detailed verdict of the case regarding the status of the college.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Ahmad Ali declared that the Edwardes College was nationalised through the Privately Managed School and Colleges (Taking Over) Regulation, 1972, which was endorsed by parliament through the 1973 Constitution.

The bench had pronounced a short order on the two petitions on Oct 1 dismissing a petition filed by Peshawar Diocese Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peter and accepting another filed by the college’s faculty members over its administrative status.

Asks govt to take steps to restore college’s glory

Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz had requested the court to declare the college set up in 1900 a private educational institution in light of an earlier court judgment delivered in 2016 and to stop the government from interfering in its affairs.

The college’s faculty members, including vice principal Shakil Ahmad Nisar, had challenged the stand of the bishop saying all privately-managed schools and colleges were taken over by the government in 1972.

They had requested the court to declare the college an autonomous institution governed by the board of governors (BoG) notified in 1974.

The provincial governor had headed the BoG until Mar this year when the Diocese committee abolished it and formed a new board headed by the bishop.

The bench observed that the Edwardes College stood out as the oldest educational institution of the province and remained the cradle of knowledge and learning for over a century having produced generations of luminaries who had served the country at the highest and important posts.

It added that students used to be vying eagerly to get admission in this college due to its highest standard and merit but suddenly, things had come to such an abysmal state, where the students had opted to migrate to other colleges to save their future in view of its deteriorating educational standards and poor results in the board and university exams.

The bench ruled that as the record unfolds, pursuant to Para-4 of the Privately Managed Schools and Colleges (Taking Over) Regulation 1972 (Regulation no 118) from Sep 1, 1972, all private-managed colleges, together with all property attached to them should vest in the Central Government, if they were situated in Islamabad Capital territory and in the provincial government, if they were situated in a province.

The court observed that admittedly, the provincial government of the erstwhile NWFP through a notification in Jan 1974 constituted the BoG for Edwardes College, Peshawar headed by the Governor as its chairman and all the administrative powers to be vested in the Board. The said notification as published in official Gazette on Apr 2, 1976.

The bench ruled that since then for four decades, all the decisions regarding the college had been taken by the said Board including the appointment of its principals from time-to-time. “Such power and authority of the BoG was never called in question before any forum,” the bench ruled adding that the government also sanctioned and released Rs 300 million as one time grant-in-aid for the up gradation of the college to the status of a full-fledged university.

The bench observed that the incumbent principal of the college was also appointed by that board.

It accepted an application of the government to set aside the earlier court judgment through which the college was declared a private institution and ruled that a petition filed by educationist Malik Naz on the matter would be decided afresh on its own merit.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2019