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Wednesday December 08, 2021

SHC sets aside single bench observation regarding continuation of notification

July 17, 2021

The Sindh High Court’s appellate bench on Friday set aside the SHC’s single bench observation with regard to the continuation of a notification about appointment of the Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) vice chancellor and ordered that the notification shall remain suspended till the hearing of the pending applications.

The order came on a high court appeal filed by Prof Dr Lubna Ansari seeking an injunction against the issuance of a notification for the appointment of Prof Dr. Amjad Siraj Memon as the JSMU VC despite interim restraining orders of the high court.

A counsel for the plaintiff submitted that a lawsuit was filed against the formation of a statutory search committee for the appointment of the VC, after which a single bench of the high court only permitted the committee to conduct the interviews of the shortlisted candidates, restraining it from finalising the list of the selected candidates.

He submitted that the search committee forwarded a summary for the finalisation of the candidates and violated the interim orders of the court whereby the committee was restrained from doing so.

The counsel maintained that the action of the search committee for finalisation of the names and the subsequent issuance of the notification for the VC’s appointment undermined the high court’s authority.

The lawyer added that later, a single bench of the SHC, despite the earlier interim order of the court, allowed the continuation of the spirit of the impugned notification which severely affected the right of the plaintiff in the case. He submitted that the impugned notification issued on June 22 as well as the single bench order which allowed its continuation were liable to be suspended till the decision of the case.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui, after hearing the arguments of the counsel, observed that the SHC single bench had not only given observation regarding the notification but also continued the interim order which restricted the committee from finalising the candidates.

The high court observed that no doubt, the university deserved a regular and permanent VC but the process, mechanism and legal proceedings should not be allowed to be flouted and it was prima facie contemptuous on the part of the respondents to have continued the process of the finalisation of the VC without disposal of the relevant applications, on which at least one earlier injunctive order was operating.

The high court observed that the selection of observation about the continuation of the notification issued by the authority despite the restraining order had perhaps overlapped and overshadowed the earlier order.

The appellate bench allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned observation of the single bench with regard to the continuation of the notification for the appointment of the JSMU VC, and ordered that the notification shall remain suspended till the hearing of the pending applications. The appellate bench observed that the single bench would be free to exercise its powers without being influenced by any observations while deciding the pending applications.

It is pertinent to mention that the search committee had recommended three names, including that of Dr Lubna, who obtained the highest 70 grading, followed by Dr Memon who got 67.23 grading after interviews of the shortlisted candidates. The CM later issued the notification with regard to the appointment of Dr Memon as the JSMU VC for a period of four years.