KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the provincial government to reconstitute the search committee for the appointment of a permanent vice chancellor of the University of Karachi within two months and complete the process of interviews of all candidates afresh at earliest.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar after noticing serious allegations levelled against acting KU VC Prof Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi directed the varsity administration to send to the chief minister names of 10 senior most professors in BS-22 in accordance with the seniority list so that he could nominate one of them as the acting VC in the intervening period.

While disposing of a set of petitions challenging the procedure of appointment of VC at KU, the bench said that the petitioners sought appointment for the post of VC on the ground that they met the criteria, but due to a lethargic attitude and biases of the search committee they had been deprived of the position.

SHC gives Sindh govt two months to reconstitute search committee, hold interviews afresh for regular VC

“Therefore, at the first instance, the search committee needs to be dissolved and a new search committee may be ordered to be constituted to evaluate the eligibility/qualification and other criteria as outlined in the advertisement and the shortlisted candidates may be recommended to the competent authority (Chief Minister Sindh) for appointment of Vice-Chancellor University of Karachi,” the bench ruled.

It directed the Sindh government to expedite the process by ensuring reconstituting the search committee within two months.

After its constitution, the search committee must send the copies of the original academic certificates/degrees/publications of the petitioners and other candidates to the Higher Education Commission for verification, the court said and directed the HEC to submit its report after ascertaining the genuineness or otherwise of such documents to the search committee in a sealed envelope within one month.

The bench in its order further said that as per dicta laid down by the apex court, the Sindh government was required to constitute a search committee consisting of not less than three and not more than five members for making recommendations for the appointment of VC.

It said the basic object of the search committee was to examine the eligibility criteria of the candidates as set forth under the law and recommend three persons in order of the merit to the government, which must proceed to notify the person of highest merit unless there were cogent reasons for not appointing him/her which must be duly recorded in writing and should be justified.

Besides, the chief minister must also record valid reasons if he disagreed with the findings of the search committee, it added.

The SHC further said that it felt appropriate to direct the provincial government to interview the candidates for the post of VC on camera through the new search committee and its recording be made available if needed by any court and the same must also be uploaded on the website of the Sindh government.

“Before parting with this order, we have noticed that serious allegations have been levelled against the present Acting Vice-Chancellor of the respondent university as discussed in the preceding paragraphs, therefore, we deem it appropriate to direct the respondent-university to forward the names of 10 senior most professors according to the seniority list maintained by the respondent university to be placed before the worthy Chief Minister, Sindh to nominate one senior-most professor in BPS-22, who shall be notified as the acting Vice-Chancellor in the intervening period,” it concluded.

The SHC directed the chief minister, secretary of the universities and boards and HEC chairman for compliance of its order.

Prof Dr Mohammad Ahmed Qadri, Prof Dr Moonis Ahmar, retired Prof Dr Syed Ehteshamul Haque and others petitioned the SHC last year stating that the authorities concerned had advertised the vacant post of vice chancellor and later a corrigendum was issued in which the criteria relating to experience, research work and age was changed to give benefit to a few candidates and to seemingly exclude the petitioners in an afterthought manner.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2022

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