KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has summoned the provincial culture secretary and director general of libraries for June 29 along with reports for abandoning and deteriorating condition of public libraries.

The SHC also directed the chief secretary, the secretaries of finance, schools and colleges departments to ensure establishment of e-libraries in every district in the upcoming budget as being done by Punjab.

A single bench of the SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar further asked the deputy commissioners of Karachi, Hyderabad, Naushahro Feroze, Dadu, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Larkana, Jacobabad and Mirpurkhas to submit reports with regard to utilisation of funds by disclosing purchase of new books, material and accessories for libraries.

The bench observed that the focal person of the chief secretary had yet to file a report with regard to libraries as per earlier orders and therefore, he would ensure that the report was submitted within 10 days without delay.

The secretaries of all departments concerned would cooperate with the focal person, who is acting on the directions of this court, it added.

The bench also directed the managing director of the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority, vice chancellor/registrar of the Technical University Khairpur to appear in person and submit complete details of technical colleges including utilization of funds. The finance department will also submit a break-up of the last five years with regard to budget allocation for technical colleges and universities.

It further asked the managing director of the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) to come up on the next hearing and submit proposals with regard to establishment of campus, schools for girls and boys under the SEF Act 1991 at taluka and district level.

All the DCs will submit detailed reports before the date of hearing with regard to budget/funds available in the head of libraries and utilizations in previous five years, it added.

When the matter regarding public libraries came up for hearing before the bench, the additional secretary (finance) in pursuance of earlier directions submitted a report regarding funds allocated for libraries and non-formal schools.

The report said that there were 21 libraries in the province under the command of the culture department and the major portion of allocated funds for libraries were released but not utilized by the department.

At this, the advocate general Sindh submitted that the department concerned would submit a detailed report with regard to reasons of such failure.

A lawyer, appearing on behalf of an intervener, informed the bench that around 20 e-libraries had been established in Punjab.

Justice Panhwar observed that e-libraries were the need of the hour as establishment of such facilities neither required much space nor staff and were easily accessible for public.

Regarding the issues of libraries, Saeed Ahmed Qureshi, the focal person to chief secretary, submitted that he would submit a complete report about libraries as per earlier directions within 15 days.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020