PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday rejected review petition filed by the principal of historical Edwardes College Peshawar, challenging last month’s judgment of the court of declaring the college a nationalised educational institution governed by a government constituted Board of Governors (BoG).
The bench of Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mahfooz pronounced the order after preliminary hearing of the petition of Principal retired Brigadier Nayyar Firdous, who claimed that he was necessary party to the case and was not heard by the court while pronouncing the judgment on October 1.
The high court had on October 1 rejected a writ petition filed by Peshawar Diocese Bishop Humphery Sarfaraz Peter, who had requested the court to declare historical Edwardes College, which was set up in 1900, a private institution in light of an earlier judgment delivered by the court in 2016 and stop the government from interfering in its affairs.
The court had also accepted a petition filed by senior faculty members, who had challenged the stance of the bishop, stating that all privately managed schools and colleges had been taken over by the government in 1972. They had requested the court to declare the college as autonomous institution governed by the BoG notified in 1974.
Court had declared college a nationalised institution
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor had been chairing the said BoG, but in March this year the Diocese committee abolished that BoG and formed the one chaired by the bishop.
The court had also allowed an application filed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, requesting the court to recall its judgment delivered in 2016 in a writ petition filed by an educationist Malak Naz, wherein the court had declared the college a private institution.
Advocate Muazzam Butt appeared for the petitioner, Nayyar Firdous, and contended that several important points were overlooked by the high court in the earlier judgment. He stated that his client had not been served any notice in the earlier round of litigation and his point of view was not heard.
He requested the court to refer the petition to the chief justice for constituting a larger bench as earlier in 2016 the court had declared the college a private entity, whereas in the recent judgment it was declared a nationalised institution.
The counsel said that Edwardes College had become an international issue as it was also discussed by European parliamentarians.
He said that the petitioner, belonging to Christian community, had played important role in improving the college standard and had been receiving threats from certain elements. He added that the children of the petitioner were highly qualified and were providing their services in the college, but because of threats they had to leave the country overnight.
Justice Qaiser Rashid asked the counsel not to give communal colour to the issue and remain confined to legal and technical aspects. The bench observed that if the petitioner had any legal basis for the submission of the present review petition, the same should be presented to the court.
Advocates Ali Gohar Durrani and Farmanullah Khattak appeared for the faculty members and pointed out that the court in its judgment had discussed all the points raised by the present petitioner.
They stated that still if the petitioner had to put forward any other legal point, he could do the same before the Supreme Court where Bishop Humphery Sarfaraz Peter had filed an appeal against the high court’s verdict. They added that the high court had heard marathon arguments of all the parties before delivering the recent judgment.
The additional advocate general, Syed Sikander Hayat Shah, appeared for provincial government and opposed the review petition.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019