Sindh HEC challenged in SHC


The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday served notices on the Sindh minister for education, chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), chief secretary, and secretary education in a petition challenging the act of provincial government of constituting provincial higher education commission. Sheikh Mohammad Waliullah Alam, representing non-government organisation, Pak-China Foundation, cited province of Sindh through chief secretary, Sindh minister of education and literacy department, chairman HEC, Sindh chief secretary, and secretary education as respondents. Petitioner through Counsel Irfan Aziz submitted that HEC was created as an autonomous institution at the federal level and governed by an 18-member commission under a chairman having the status of a federal minister with the prime minister as its controlling authority. He stated the composition of the commission, with representation from each province and the inclusion of the education and science and technology secretaries as well as of eminent academic and research experts reflected a balanced federal structure. He submitted before the court that Sindh government suddenly expressed its views through a statement reported in newspaper on December 6, 2012, that provincial government will constitute its own HEC on its own style which would amount to devolving the higher education sector to a province which was not permitted by any law of the land. He stated the Supreme Court in its judgment on April 12, 2011, had already decided that the HEC was a federal subject and protected under a constitutional provision mentioned in the Federal Legislative List; hence any action on the part of the Sindh government against the Supreme Court observation was unlawful and liable to be quashed forthwith unless a fresh piece of legislation was passed by the National Assembly. He submitted that neither legislation had been done in this regard nor any bill that favors the act of converting a national department into provincial department had been passed from the national assembly, however he added that creation of a provincial HEC by the respondents is their personal grudge with the HEC as it has acted fairly in the case of verification of degrees of politicians in the recent past. He prayed the court for declaring any steps for constituting the provincial higher education commission as unlawful and against the Supreme Court judgment, and meantime suspended any attempt on the part of respondents to constitute an HEC in Sindh. The division bench headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan issued notice to the respondents and put off the hearing till January 23.