The long drawn battle for the post of vice-chancellor (VC) of Dow University of Health Sciences finally met its end as the Sindh High Court ordered on Tuesday selection "from the beginning" for appointment by the governor on the advice of chief minister as per law.
The division bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, set aside the notification regarding the appointment of Dr Noshad Sheikh as the VC of one of the country's largest medical universities, which has been undergoing administrative crisis since 2015. The bench had earlier reserved its verdict on March 21 this year following lengthy hearings on identical petitions questioning the appointment of Professor Masood Hameed Khan and Dr Noshad Sheikh as VCs.
The bench set aside the Sindh governor's notification dated October 26, 2015 that appointed Sheikh as the VC against the CM's recommendation.
Sheikh's appointment was challenged by Dr Saeed Quraishy, whom the CM had also recommended with two other candidates, selected by the search committee, to the governor for appointment on the post.
However, Quraishy had named one of the members of the search committee, Fazalur Rehman, as a referee in his papers. The judges observed in the judgment that "since Quraishy is also one of the candidates in the selection process, therefore, in order to maintain impartiality and neutrality, the chief minister is directed to substitute the nomination of Fazalur Rehman and in his place any other competent person be inducted into the search committee through reconstitution."
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They directed the search committee to consider the applications of all 12 candidates de-novo (from the beginning) on merits with proper application of mind and recommend the three most suitable candidates for approval of the CM to enable him to select the most suitable candidate.
The bench ordered that the chairperson of the search committee will ensure the presence of all members of the committee at the time of considering the applications for awarding marks on the basis of pro-forma yardstick and on the day when the interviews shall be conducted. The committee members may also consider the appointment of co-opted member according to the mandate given to them, the judges added.
The high court ruled that after the completion of the process, the CM will forward his advice to the governor/chancellor in terms of Section 12(1) of the Dow University of Health Sciences Act, 2004 (as amended) and Article 105 of the Constitution.
It directed that the entire process should be completed within 20 days without any delay.
The judges ruled that on issuance of the notification for appointment of the new VC on advice of the CM, the additional change given to professor Masood Hameed Khan on November 10, 2015 as a stopgap arrangement will come to an end automatically.
"During this period, he shall perform only day to day and routine work without taking any major decision," they clarified.
In its 28-page judgment, the judges also referred that the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Tariq Azizud Din where it was observed that "It is the duty and obligation of the competent authority to consider the merit of all eligible candidates while putting down them in juxtaposition to find out the meritorious amongst them otherwise one of the organs of the State i.e. Executive could not survive as an independent organ, which is the command of the Constitution."
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2016.