KARACHI: The biggest medical university in Karachi, Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), still has no luck in getting a new vice-chancellor (VC) despite the fact that the Sindh High Court's (SHC) two benches at Karachi and Hyderabad ordered the provincial government to appoint a VC.
On December 30, 2016, a circuit bench of the SHC in Hyderabad ordered the appointment of the VCs of three universities - Karachi University (KU), Sindh University (SU) and DUHS - within a month. A week after the court order, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah called the top candidates of KU and SU for final interviews - the candidates of DUHS were not called. Prof Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat was appointed as the VC of SU on January 19 this while Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan was appointed as the head of KU four days later on January 23. An official of the CM House then claimed that a meeting would be held within a week for the appointment of the DUHS VC. However, no such meeting had been held until now.
DUHS, which has been awaiting a permanent VC since September 15, 2015 - when the now acting VC of the varsity, Prof Dr Masood Hameed Khan, completed his tenure for the second time in accordance with the Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Act 2014. The law states that the VC is appointed by the government for a period of four years, which may be extended for one more term on such conditions as the government may determine.
The matter of the appointment of the DUHS VC was taken to the judiciary when Prof Dr Noshad A Shaikh was appointed out of turn by the then governor, Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, against the recommendations of the then Sindh CM, Qaim Ali Shah. Shah preferred Prof Dr Saeed Qureshy as the top candidate for the VC's post on the merit list.
After the controversy on the notification of the appointment of Dr Shaikh issued twice by the then governor and turning down Shah's orders, the SHC's division bench in Karachi, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, set aside the notification regarding the appointment of Dr Shaikh as the VC on April 26, 2016.
The bench had earlier reserved its verdict on March 21, 2016, following lengthy hearings on identical petitions, questioning the appointment of Dr Masood Hameed Khan and Dr Shaikh as VCs.
The April 26, 2016, order of the Karachi bench also directed the search committee to consider the applications of all the 12 candidates de-novo (from the beginning) on merit with proper application of mind and recommend the three most suitable candidates for approval of the CM to enable him to select the best candidate.
It was directed in the order that the entire process, from interviews till appointment, should be completed within 20 days without any delay.
Interviews of the candidates and selection committee's meeting took place after the order in May, 2016, said a member of the search committee, Mazharul Haq Siddiqui. The top candidate for the post of VC, Dr Qureshy, confirmed the interviews were conducted in May. However, the then governor appointed Dr Shaikh, who was on the seventh number on the merit list, which was then challenged in the court by the Pakistan Medical Association.
Meanwhile, the CM House spokesperson told The Express Tribune that the meetings for the appointment are in process and it is under consideration whether interviews should be held with the existing search committee or a new one should be formed before the interviews of the VC of DUHS. The matter of the appointment will be resolved soon, he added.
The head of the search committee, Deedar Hussain Shah, was not available for comment when contacted by The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2017.
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