The Supreme Court on Sunday ordered vice chancellors of four major public universities to resign after taking suo motu notice of irregular appointments in higher education institutions of Punjab.
The apex court’s Sunday orders follow the prior removal of Punjab University acting VC Dr Zakariya Zakar on Saturday. Continuing proceedings at the SC Lahore Registry on Sunday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar observed that appointments made in absence of transparency and upon the whims of ministers could not be tolerated. He also summoned Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani in court to explain the government’s view on appointments in public sector universities of the province.
Following the CJP’s orders, VCs of Fatima Jinnah Medical University, Faisalabad Medical University and Rawalpindi Medical University resigned from their posts immediately, while Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) VC Dr Uzma Qureshi was suspended. The CJP also ordered a detailed inquiry into the appointment of Dr Uzma as the LCWU VC.
Dr Uzma was appointed the university’s vice chancellor on May 29, 2017, but the permanency of her appointment was made dependent on findings of a fact finding report on her eligibility that was to be furnished by an inquiry committee formed by the Punjab chief minister.
The committee members – Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, ITU VC Dr Umar Saif, Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Nizamuddin and secretary of Punjab Higher Education Department – were to submit the report by June 19, 2017. However, no such finding had been reported to the hiogh-ups unitil; the CJP took notice of the issue.
During Sunday’s hearing CJP Nisar asked the search committees for appointments of VCs to uphold merit and transparency in the process of selecting VCs. He also directed the government to ensure appointments of vice chancellors strictly on merit in the coming six weeks.
Earlier, Dr Uzma pleaded with the CJP to not remove her from the position, however, the country’s top judge ordered her suspension and an inquiry into her appointment as the vice chancellor of LCWU.