close
Friday March 31, 2023

SHC tells CM to notify most senior professor as KU’s acting vice chancellor

SHC also directed the Sindh government to constitute a search committee for a term of two years to make recommendations for the appointment of vice chancellors to the KU

February 02, 2022
The Silver Jubilee gate of the University of Karachi. — The News/Files
The Silver Jubilee gate of the University of Karachi. — The News/Files

Taking notice of serious allegations against the acting vice chancellor of Karachi University, the Sindh High Court directed the varsity on Tuesday to forward the names of 10 professors, according to the seniority list, to the chief minister, so he could notify the most senior professor as acting vice chancellor till the appointment of a permanent one.

The court also directed the Sindh government to constitute a search committee for a term of two years to make recommendations for the appointment of vice chancellors to the KU, in terms of rules and regulations set forth by the government, having better qualifications than the aspiring candidates for the VC post of the universities in the province.

It made it clear that the search committee would consist of not less than three and not more than five members, and that the process of reconstituting the committee must be completed within two months.

The directives came during a hearing of identical petitions filed by Prof Mohammad Ahmed Qadri and others, who challenged the selection criteria of the search committee for the appointments of permanent and acting VCs.

The petitioners had questioned the modes and methods of the search committee and alleged that such methods were adopted to harass the petitioners and other genuine candidates. They alleged that two members of the committee were former VCs of Karachi University and biased against them as they favoured Prof Khalid Mehmood Iraqi, who had been serving as acting VC and was also a candidate for the post of the vice chancellor.

They contended that they were the most senior professors according to the seniority list, which was bypassed and a junior person was selected to act as acting VC, which amply proved that the search committee was biased and prejudiced and in favour of the candidate who, otherwise, was not entitled to be appointed even as acting VC.

They sought an injunction against the search committee and requested the SHC to declare that the competent authority may select persons to act as members of the search committee who were not biased and prejudiced.

The provincial law officer opposed the petition as not maintainable and supported the appointment of acting VC, arguing that the post of VC could not be assigned to any person who was only senior because the post required administrative qualities.

A division bench, comprising Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar and Justice Adnanul Karim Memon, after hearing the arguments of the counsel, observed that basic objective of the search committee is to examine the eligibility criteria as set forth under the law of candidates and recommend the names of three persons in order of merit to the government, which shall proceed to notify the person of the highest merit unless there are cogent reasons for not appointing him, which shall be duly recorded in writing and shall be justiciable as observed by the Supreme Court.

The court observed that the chief minister shall record valid reasons if he disagrees with the findings of the search committee; besides, if he is not okay with any candidate for the position of vice chancellor, he must record valid reasons in writing.

The bench further told the government to interview candidates for the post in camera through its newly constituted search committee and make its recording available if needed by any court of law. It said the recording shall also be uploaded on the website of the government.

It observed that the recording should not be destroyed and be saved for one year in case the appointment is challenged, and then in such an event unless the issue is disposed of by the competent court of law.

The high court ordered that the process of interviewing the candidates be conducted afresh for the appointment of VC at the earliest. It also ordered that the search committee send the copies of the original academic certificates/degrees/publications of the petitioners and other respondents to the Higher Education Commission for verification. The HEC was directed to look into the academic qualifications/certificates and submit a report to the search committee in a sealed envelope within one month for further proceedings.