KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has set aside the shortlisting of candidates for the post of vice chancellor at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) and ruled that the search committee has failed in its duties by outsourcing the task of shortlisting in violation of law.
While disposing of a petition filed against the search committee by one of the candidates, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar said that outsourcing the task of shortlisting and marking/scoring by search committee to independent enumerators was in violation of basic structure of the Fuuast Ordinance, 2002.
Therefore, the exercise of shortlisting and marking/scoring conducted by the independent enumerators on directions of the search committee is set aside, it ruled.
The bench directed the search committee to conduct selection process de novo by itself and scrutinise and appraise in a fair and transparent manner all curriculum vitae/résumé submitted by candidates for the appointment to the post of vice chancellor pursuant to advertisement published in the newspapers in August last year for inviting applications.
“After due diligence, assessment and proper appraisal of curriculum vitae/résumé, supporting documents and feedback forms including the information if any submitted by the candidates for rectifying any bona fide mistake in the feedback form, the search committee shall award marks consistent with the yardsticks/benchmarks and shortlist the candidates for interview,” it added.
The bench further said that after finalisation of selection process within 30 days, the search committee must forward the recommendations as required under Section 12 of the Fuuast Ordinance for appointment of vice chancellor.
A candidate has filed the petition to challenge the appointment of two members of the search committee and sought directives for reconstitution of the committee and also challenged the rejection of his application submitted for the appointment of VC.
However, the bench observed that both the members in question were distinguished university teachers and selected by its senate through a process to be prescribed by the statute for the recommendation of suitable names by the university teachers in general while the petitioner has alleged bias without any persuasive rationalissation or reasoning against them except that he opposed the nomination in the search committee which was not a justifiable ground nor seems to be logical.
It further said that the role and purpose of search committee was quite meaningful and carrying great weight and importance, but it was somewhat incomprehensible to glance through the declaration made by respondents that the names of the candidates were never placed/disclosed to the members of committee for shortlisting and scoring was done by an independent enumerators and only the scoring sheets with the file numbers were discussed by the search committee without having names of any of the candidates.
“By doing so we feel no hesitation in our mind to hold that search committee was found fail in its duties. The search committee was appointed for recommending the most suitable candidate for appointment as Vice Chancellor which could not outsource their responsibilities and onerous duty to some independent enumerators while a sacred duty was conferred to analyze and scrutinize the credentials and antecedents of all candidates who applied to the post of Vice Chancellor,” it concluded.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2021