LAHORE: Policy and administrative decisions of six universities of the province are on hold for the last six weeks since the Lahore High Court (LHC) reserved a judgment on the appointment of vice-chancellors.
On February 16, a division bench of the LHC had reserved its verdict on intra-court appeals of the Punjab government and others challenging a single-bench decision, wherein the appointment process for VCs at four public-sector universities and appointment of the acting heads was set aside.
The decision is being awaited with bated breath by academia as acting VCs cannot take any policy and administrative decisions, including calling of a meeting of syndicate or hiring any staff.
If some VCs of these six universities take such steps, they are illegal and can be questioned in court.
On December 19, the division bench had ordered the Punjab government to appoint VCs of three universities provisionally, including University of Sargodha, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology, Multan and University of Punjab.
The same bench on December 20 made an amendment in its December 19 order by removing the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) VC, observing that it was not brought to the notice of the bench during the hearing on December 19 that Dr Uzma Quraishi was already serving as the VC of the LCWU.
Other than VCs of above mentioned four varsities, the tenure of Information Technology University Lahore, and University of Agriculture, Faisalabad VCs have also expired and they are also holding additional charge of VC and cannot take any policy or administrative decision.
On December 1, a single bench of the LHC ordered removal of the acting VCs of above mentioned four varsities. The court also had declared the process of appointing the VCs by the Higher Education Department (HEC) illegal. It directed the HEC to devise a criteria for every university separately and make separate search committees for all universities to fill the positions.
The LHC directed the HEC to initiate the process of making these appointments within a month and advertise for the purpose. The court maintained that the post of a VC cannot be filled for an indefinite period on a temporary basis.
The court declared that part of Section 14 of the Punjab University Act 1973 also gave powers to the Punjab government to appoint VCs. The single bench on December 11, 2015 had stayed the process of making these appointments.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2017.
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