KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has issued notices to provincial authorities on a lawsuit challenging the appointment of the vice chancellor of the Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU).

Haider Waheed, the counsel for plaintiff Prof Dr Lubna Ansari Baig, pleaded to suspend the March 24 notification regarding the appointment of Prof Dr Amajd Siraj Memon as the VC and reinstatement of Prof Dr Shahid Rasool as acting VC till the disposal of the suit.

A single-judge bench headed by Justice Kausar Sultana Hussain put the Sindh chief secretary, secretary of the boards and universities department, JSMU VC and other defendants as well as advocates general on notice for a date to be later fixed by the court office.

Prof Dr Lubna Baig moved the SHC stating that she was a professor at JSMU and one of the shortlisted candidates eligible for appointment of the varsity’s VC.

She produced a copy of the merit list that showed the search committee had shortlisted three candidates — the plaintiff with 70 marks; Dr Memon with 67.25 marks and Prof Dr Khaja H. Mujtaba with 48.75 marks.

However, the plaintiff’s counsel argued that instead of his client, Dr Memon was appointed as JSMU VC through a notification issued on March 24 for a period of four years.

He submitted that the appointment was made in violation of the Supreme Court judgement reported in 2021 that said names were required to be shortlisted by a search committee in order of merit with the person highest on merit having a legitimate expectancy of being appointed unless the chief minister recorded valid reasons for not appointing him/her and such reasons were opened to judicial scrutiny and review.

The lawyer also cited an SHC judgement passed in two suits around three months ago and the high court had also relied upon the same apex court judgement and directed provincial authorities concerned to float the summary of shortlisted candidates recommended by the search committee for fresh interviews to the chief minister and he would appoint the JSMU VC strictly in accordance with dicta laid down by the apex court.

He argued that the plaintiff had sent a letter to the secretary of boards and universities department for providing the reasons for issuing the impugned notification to appoint VC of JSMU. However, the department concerned in its reply stated that it was not under obligation to communicate the reasons to the plaintiff, he added.

In February, the SHC had set aside the notification issued in July 2021 about appointment of Dr Memon as JSMU VC and directed the provincial government to appoint the VC within 30 days.

It had asked the secretary of universities and boards department to send a summary of shortlisted candidates recommended by the search committee to the chief minister, who after conducting fresh interviews would appoint a new VC preferably within a month in the light of a recent judgement of the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2022

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