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Thursday July 18, 2024

Chief secretary, KU put on notice on plea seeking student union elections

By Jamal Khurshid
May 25, 2024
The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — Facebook/The High Court of Sindh, Karachi/File
The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — Facebook/The High Court of Sindh, Karachi/File 

The Sindh High Court on Friday issued notices to the chief secretary, University of Karachi (KU) and others on a petition seeking students union elections at the varsity under the Sindh Students Union Act.

The petitioners, Taimoor Ahmed and others, had submitted in the petition that the Senate of Pakistan had unanimously passed a resolution for lifting the ban on student unions stating that the prohibition on students’ unions was a violation of the fundamental right enshrined in the Article 17 of the Constitution.

Their counsel Usman Farooq submitted that the Sindh government had also enacted the Sindh Students Union Act 2019 that aimed to restore and restructure student unions across the province thereby fostering the growth of the democratic system in line with the Article 17 of the Constitution.

He submitted that the Act mandated the educational institutions to formulate regulations and procedures for the conduct of students union elections within two month after the promulgation of the law.

The SHC was informed that the chapter II, section 8(1) of the University of Karachi Act 1972 stated that there shall be a union of students of the university which shall be represented in the varsity’s senate by its office bearers.

The counsel submitted that lack of students union elections at the university deprived the students of their fundamental rights to participate in the democratic process of their educational institution.

He submitted that the students unions were recognised bodies that worked within a structured framework, addressing students issues on campus. He said the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad had made significant progress as an example for other universities regarding revival of student unions as the union was elected there through a well-structured process overseen by a committee ensuring adherence to ethical standards, transparency and promotion of student welfare and democratic values.

The counsel submitted that a gazetted notification was issued in 2022 but still no university and college had issued their schedule of elections of students union in compliance with the Sindh Students Union Act.

A division bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi after the preliminary hearing of the petition issued notices to the chief secretary, KU and others and called their comments on June 12.