A local court has sought replies from officials of the Prime Minister’s office, education ministry and head of a selection committee that had appointed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairman allegedly in violation of rules.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued notices to officials of the Prime Minister Secretariat, Ministry of Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education, selection committee chairman Khwaja Asif and the HEC chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmad asking them to submit their detailed replies in 15 days.
The court adjourned the hearing till the first week of August.
Four petitions have been filed in the IHC against Ahmad’s appointment, his dual degree, modified salary package and alleged irregularities. However, the court on June 25 clubbed together the identical petitions.
Arsal Ikram, one of the petitioners maintained before the court that Dr Ahmad was appointed HEC chairman in violation of rules and regulations.
He contended that the appointment was made in violation of competitive process of selection, suitability and fitness as it was made without interviewing other candidates.
The petitioner claimed that the PM Secretariat had set up a committee comprising Ahsan Iqbal, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Prof M.D. Shami for the appointment of HEC chairman.
The committee advertised the post through ministry for education, training and standard in higher education in February this year.
“The committee received 103 applications. Of which, 21 candidates were shortlisted while 18 were called for interviews,” the petitioner claimed.
He mentioned in the petition that head of the committee was absent when the interviews were conducted. The committee, he said, approved three candidates including Ahmad.
“Prime Minister Secretariat, however, rejected all the names due to allegations of unfairness in the entire process.”
Another search body, headed by Khwaja Asif, was set up to appoint a chairman. The panel was working when the Establishment Division issued the notification of the appointment of Ahmad as HEC chairman on April 16, without conducting interviews.
Besides, Dr Ahmad is accused of obtaining two degrees in different disciplines in the academic year which is not permissible under the law. The petitions also claimed that he did not meet the requirements advertised for the post.
He has also been accused of unjustly increasing his salary.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2014.
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