Questions over autonomy: HEC controversy lands in apex court

Published: December 11, 2012
Tussle under way over whether commission or PM have final say on appointment of HEC executive director.  PHOTO: FILE

Tussle under way over whether commission or PM have final say on appointment of HEC executive director. PHOTO: FILE


The controversy over the appointment of the new Higher Education Commission (HEC) executive director landed in the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a three-judge bench of the apex court, had issued notices to the federal government and the new acting HEC executive director (ED), Major (retd) Qamaruz Zaman, for allegedly violating the appointment rules of the commission.

The petitioner, introduced as ‘a concerned citizen’, was represented by his counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan. Khan told the court that this was the second time in less than a year that the government had attacked the HEC’s autonomy and removed its ED. The counsel said, “It is a sheer violation of the HEC Ordinance’s Section 11, which says that HEC is the only appointing authority for the ED, while … the prime minister [can] appoint the chairman of HEC.” Khan added that in this case, a notification for the new ED was issued illegally by the cabinet and establishment division.

Wasim Sajjad appeared on behalf of the HEC. He also supported the petition, saying that the chief executive has no say in the appointment procedure for the HEC ED.

The chief justice was surprised to hear that the previous HEC ED, Sohail Naqvi, was replaced by the government. An official of the commission, Nasir Khan, handed over a document to the court in which HEC Chairperson Javed Laghari asked the new acting ED to start the process of hiring a new ED immediately.

The commission

Responding to Sajjad and Khan’s plea, the chief justice said that the court could have issued a stay order in this regard, but since the chairman himself entrusted Zaman with the process of appointing a new ED, the case will not be taken up on December 17.

Ongoing tussle

The establishment division appointed the secretary of the ministry of education and training, Major (retd) Qamaruz Zaman, as the new ED on November 29 and terminated the contract of Dr Sohail Naqvi, who had held the position for the past nine years.

The board that governs the HEC consists of 17 members, including federal and provincial secretaries and vice-chancellors of universities, including private sector institutes. It is headed by the chairman and the premier is the final vetting authority. According to the HEC Act, the premier can appoint the HEC chairman and members of the board, but cannot have them removed.


The HEC consists of both contractual and permanent employees. The ongoing tussle began on July 29, 2012 when the HEC advertised the position of ED, as the second, and legally the last, extension of Dr Naqvi was coming to an end in September 2012. However, a ban was imposed by the federal government on fresh recruitment of contractual employees in all departments, including the HEC.

Thus the appointment process for a new ED came to a halt. On August 27 the commission renewed Dr Naqvi’s contract for another four years, although the HEC Act states that officials on contract cannot be given an extension for more than one term. Subsequently, the prime minister directed the HEC chairman on September 3 to rescind Dr Naqvi’s extension.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Rizwan
    Dec 11, 2012 - 9:46PM

    Ex ED Sohail Naqvi should by given the charge of ED back i hope CJ will do justice


  • Umar Baloch
    Dec 13, 2012 - 4:13AM

    Fake degree holder politicians striving for quota in HEC vs Right of common people for higher education on merit


  • Hassan Nasir
    Dec 17, 2012 - 10:13PM

    Is there any need to play havoc by politicizing a properly functioning institution by replacing a highly qualified technocrat with a B.A. pass bureaucrat in HEC ????

    Zardari, Raja Ashraf and feudal politicians such as Khurshid Shah, Gilani, talpurs and other sindhi vadairas are not happy with the efficiency of HEC regarding higher education in Pakistan. You may give 100 reasons for the replacement of Dr. Naqvi, but tell me that befor Naqvi as ED of HEC, what was the actual situation of higher education in this country ? Just compare the 55 year data with these 10 years of HEC under the guidance of Mr. Naqvi. Our jahil feudal politicians have no vision of future. They’re just interested in creating job opportunities in HEC for the inefficient workers of their political party. We’re the victim of evil minded politicians who want to destroy every institution of this country just like PIA, Railway, Steel mills by creating illegal employments for their party workers. The problems of this country can never be fixed unless these feudal politicians are executed along with their entire families. Their children are just like the children of snakes, and every snake is dangerous whether it’s adult or infant. This is the only way to save Pakistan and change the corrupt mindset of its people.

    This nation is suffering from corrupt bureaucracy. Do you want to know how “Feudal and Jahil” politicians made this bureaucracy corrupt ??? See the example of Raja Azeem-ul-Haq, son-in-law of criminal Prime Minister Raja Rental. Just 2 years ago, he was serving in grade 18. Now he’s become grade 21 officer. What’s this ? It’s only possible in bana republic. Alas, jagirdar jahil and criminal politicians have destroyed every institution of Pakistan in just 5 years. Elections are never a solution for these people. Never, it’s impossible via election. The only way to save this country is the mass killing of the feudal, jagirdar politicians along with their entire families. This is the only way to save Pakistan !!!!!


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