LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed the provincial government to respond till October 13 to two identical writ petitions challenging its decision to give autonomous status to 26 colleges.
Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan passed the order on the petitions moved by Ashraf Akhtar, an associate professor, and Shahid Amin, father of a student at Government Islamia College Civil Lines, Lahore.
The petitioners through their counsel, Asad Manzoor Butt, submitted that the government had awarded autonomous status to 26 colleges under the Punjab Educational Institutions Ordinance of 1960.
Under the new setup, they pointed out, the boards of governors were authorised to sell the college property and to hire and fire teachers and support staff.
The petitioners’ counsel told the court that a similar decision, taken in 2002, was met with severe criticism. He said that an inquiry committee headed by Justice (retired) Ijaz Nisar had probed the matter and recommended against granting autonomous status to the colleges. The committee report, he said, had stated that the colleges increased their fees from Rs65 per month to Rs2,500 per month after gaining autonomy.
The board of directors did not contribute a single penny to the college finances and transferred the entire burden to the students.
The petitioners requested the court to suspend the provincial government’s order granting autonomous status to the colleges.
Teachers and students of the affected colleges on Wednesday staged separate protests against the move. Students of Islamia College, Civil Lines, and Government Science College, blocked the Wahadat Road for several hours.
Teaching staff of several colleges staged a sit-in opposite the Punjab Assembly building on The Mall.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2010.