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September 20, 2019

SHC seeks govt’s comments on petition against universities law

Karachi

September 20, 2019

The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed a provincial law officer, the Sindh Assembly speaker and others to file comments on a petition against a controversial law passed last year which granted the chief minister broad control over the province’s public sector universities.

Altaf Shakoor, the president of Pasban, a political group, submitted in his petition that the Sindh Assembly had passed the controversial Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Act 2018 which placed all the administrative powers of the public sector varsities of Sindh with the CM, taking them away from the governor, who was a representative and symbol of the federation in the province.

The petitioner submitted that 24 public sector universities had been affected due to the law across Sindh as political and bureaucratic interference had been inducted and injected into them, which darkened the future of their students.

Shakoor submitted that the ruling political party in Sindh – the Pakistan Peoples Party – unlawfully passed the impugned amendments with an incomplete quorum and without fulfilling the lawful and constitutional formalities.

He further said that the law had changed the functions undertaken by the academic councils such as formulating admission policies. Moreover, under the law, the vice chancellors (VCs) could not take administrative decisions to run the day-to-day affairs of the varsities as despite the completion of universities’ syndicates, even appointments made by the VCs would be subject to the approval of the CM. All university teachers and staff were against the impugned law and had rejected it, the petitioner claimed.

According to the petitioner, the intention, aims and objectives of the legislature should always be bona fide and in the welfare and interests of the general public and the legislature should not hurt the interests of the people by imposing an unwanted and illegal law.

Shakoor stated in the petition that the controversial law had snatched the autonomy earlier enjoyed by the institutions of higher education and inducted a majority of provincial bureaucrats in the varsities’ bodies.

The provincial law officer sought time from the SHC to file comments on the petition. A division bench of the high court, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, directed the officer to respond to the petition by October 15.