Concerns for education: Court admits for hearing amended plea challenging law on varsities

Published: December 19, 2018
Public universities’ staff plans protests against 'govt interference'. 

Public universities’ staff plans protests against 'govt interference'. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) admitted on Tuesday an amended petition for hearing challenging the provisions of the Sindh Universities Amendment Act 2018.

The petitioner, Pasban Democratic Party President Altaf Shakoor, had initially challenged the bill that sought amendments to the laws regulating public universities. Since the bill was passed by the provincial assembly during the pendency of the hearing and became an Act, the SHC directed the petitioner to file an amended petition.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal while admitting the amended petition directed the Sindh government to submit a detailed reply and adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.

In his plea, filed through Advocate Irfan Aziz, the petitioner submitted that the Sindh governor used to be the chancellor of all public universities in Sindh but now all authorities have been transferred to the chief minister through this politically-motivated law. This will lead to deterioration in academic standards of the higher institutions and their conditions would not be different from those prevailing in government-run schools of the province.

The petitioner further said that 24 universities of the province have been made dependent upon the will of the chief minister for their academic and administrative management.

The petitioner claimed the purpose of this Act was to close the doors of education in urban regions of Sindh as the autonomy of universities has been taken away.

The court, accepting the request for regular hearing, asked the government to submit a detailed reply.

Banning Gutka, Mainpuri

The same bench directed Sindh chief secretary, law and health secretaries, inspector-general police (IG) and others to submit their replies on a plea seeking a ban on the production, sale and consumption of addictive substances including Gutka, Mainpuri, Jam that are hazardous to health.

Advocate Muzammil Mumtaz argued that Gutka and Mainpuri were more dangerous than cocaine and heroin as addicts of cocaine and heroin can be treated but the addicts of Gutka and Mainpuri are incurable. Cancer is rapidly increasing due to the use of these substances.

He sought the court’s direction to the provincial government to make laws banning the production, sale and consumption of these products. The health secretary should be made responsible for taking action against those who produce, sell or consume these substances. The shops selling these items should be sealed and the SHOs should be removed from their posts if any activity of selling Gutka and other items is reported from areas under their jurisdiction.

Justice Mazhar remarked that making laws for banning Gutka and Mainpuri was the responsibility of the Sindh government. The government will decide whether the case against Gutka sellers should be filed and under which law. The court ordered the chief secretary, law secretary, health secretary, Sindh IG and others to submit their replies in this regard in the next hearing.

Bail granted

The SHC on Tuesday accepted the bail pleas of four alleged target killers affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) against the surety of Rs0.5 million each.

A two-member bench heard the bail plea filed by accused Kamran Madhuri and others. The other accused are Suhail Nadeem Arain, Mohsin and Abdul Subhanullah.

According to the prosecutor, many cases have been registered against Kamran but he got bail in three cases. He said that Kamran was still in prison for more than four cases. The prosecutor informed the court that the accused was booked in murder cases and so his bail plea should be rejected.

Kamran is a dangerous criminal and there are 11 different cases registered against him, according to the prosecutor.

He said that the anti-terrorism court (ATC) had already rejected bail pleas of the four accused.

Prosecution further said that accused had attacked the police van in Chakra Goth, in which four policemen were martyred and some policemen and citizens were injured.

Kamran’s counsel said that there was no allegation against his client in this case.

The court accepted the bail pleas against surety.

Security of VVIPs

The SHC on Tuesday sought a copy of the Supreme Court’s (SC) verdict on January 15 pertaining to the security of VVIPs.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmed Ali Shaikh, was hearing the case regarding the provision of security to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The CJ remarked that they wanted to see the notice taken by SC regarding the security of VVIPs. He remarked that SC had ordered to withdraw extra security from VVIPs.

Bilawal’s lawyer Akhtar Hussain argued that according to the reports of intelligence agencies, Bilawal had extreme security threats, adding that terrorists had also targeted his mother, Benazir Bhutto.

The CJ remarked that it was the responsibility of the state to provide protection and security to every citizen. The court remarked that Sindh government had assigned security personnel for Bilawal’s security.

The counsel said that providing security to Bilawal was not a matter of provincial government but the responsibility of the federal government. He argued that the PPP’s chairman needs security when he visits other provinces.

The CJ remarked that first the court would see what directives have been issued by the SC regarding security of VVIPs and only then a decision could be taken.

Notice issued to IG

The SHC issued notice to the Sindh IGP on a plea seeking improvement in investigation system especially in cases of harassment of women. The plea for a law providing severe punishment to harassers was filed by Kainat Soomro. The provincial home secretary submitted a report in this regard.

According to the report, an agreement had been signed with Karachi University for establishment of a DNA lab which will be operational in three months.

Kainat Soomro argued in the petition that SC had ordered the implementation of a modern procedure for effective and improved investigations to deal with rape cases.

The apex court also ordered to amend the laws regarding prosecution and trial of accused. The accused of rape cases get released due to the defective investigations and soft laws. Petitioner had asked the court to direct the Sindh government to reform the DNA test law and modify other laws.

Additional reporting by PPI 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2018.

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