The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued a three-week deadline to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to file its reply on a petition challenging the removal of Tariq Bunuri as the commission's chairperson.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by various civil society organisations and members challenging the removal in wake of the presidential ordinance.
The government, represented by their counsel as well as HEC representatives, held the stance that the notice was recently received by them and they require time to file their responses.
Justice Minallah gave the respondents three weeks to file their replies, telling them to file their responses in advance in view of the urgency of the matter.
The CJ also directed to provide copies of the replies to the counsel of the petitioners so the case could be proceeded with on the next date of hearing.
The judge subsequently adjourned the hearing till June 29.
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Meanwhile, the injunctive order passed during the previous hearing, restraining the government from appointing a permanent HEC chairman, will continue.
The ordinance has been shrouded in controversy with the perception that it allows the government to appoint an interim HEC chairperson.
Interestingly, there is an order operating on the same issue by the Sindh High Court passed in March 2021, which restrains the appointing of a chairperson in any manner, including an acting chairperson.
If the government proceeds with appointing an acting chairperson, it would be a violation of the SHC order.
There is also no provision provided in the HEC ordinance of 2002 that allows such an appointment.
It is also pertinent to mention that any verbal discussion in the courtroom between a counsel and the bench does not operate as an order of the court unless incorporated in the order of court, so any comments, even though important, don't have a legal standing.
On June 2, the IHC restrained the government from appointing a chairman of the HEC. The court issued the directives while hearing the petition against the HEC ordinance and for reappointing Tariq Banuri as the chairman of the commission.