KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to file comments on a petition filed against a search committee for appointment of vice chancellor at Karachi University within 10 days.
The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui ruled that its earlier interim restraining order for the search committee not to process the appointment of vice chancellor will continue till March 17.
When the bench took up two petitions filed against the search committee for hearing, an assistant advocate general filed comments on behalf of the search committee and another respondent.
The chairman of the search committee, Prof Dr Abdul Qadeer Rajput, in a compliance report contended that they had sent the research publications of Prof Dr Mohammad Ahmed Qadri, a candidate for the post of VC and one of the petitioners, to the Higher Education Commission for verification.
The HEC responded that most of the research publications of the petitioner were not recognised and only seven such publications may be considered recognised whereas the required research publications for the post were 25, he maintained.
Petitioners claim criteria was changed for post
The lawyers for the petitioners argued that since a controversy was involved about the appointment of petitioners and other candidates on the basis of their credentials, this exercise of verification of such publications should be carried out in respect of all the candidates/private respondents.
The bench observed that this question will be heard and decided at the time of final hearing. However, it directed the chief secretary of Sindh, secretary of universities and boards department and chairman of search committee as well as the AAG to file para-wise comments on the second petition within 10 days.
The first petition was filed by Prof Qadri and contended that since he along with another colleague had also moved the SHC earlier against the search committee, thus the committee with mala fide intention issued him a letter asking him to get his research publications verified from the HEC.
The petitioner further submitted that the respondents had advertised the vacant post of vice chancellor in June 2019, but in October a corrigendum was issued in which the criteria relating to experience, research work and age was changed/relaxed.
He maintained that he along with another petitioner had challenged it and the SHC had struck down the corrigendum, thus a rift between him and the search committee emerged and now it was allegedly attempting to single him out by issuing a letter to get his 25 research publications verified, adding that it was the job of committee to satisfy itself by issuing a letter to the HEC for such verification.
The second petition was filed by retired Prof Dr Syed Ehteshamul Haque, also a contender for the post, and alleged that the search committee and other respondents had ignored the merit, criteria and eligibility and also overlooked the Dec 24 order of the SHC in which it had directed them to consider all candidates strictly in accordance with law and rules.
The petitioner pleaded for dissolution of the search committee and constitution of a new committee comprising impartial, independent and competent members to initiate the process of appointment afresh.
He also sought directions for respondents to evaluate the research publications of all the candidates through the HEC.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2021