High Court suspends notification of Gomal University VC’s ​removal

Gomal University
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The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday suspended the government’s notification of the removal of Gomal University Vice-Chancellor Prof Iftikhar Ahmad and sought the response of the relevant officials to the violation of a stay order issued on the matter lately.

A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan Chamkani and Justice Syed M Attique Shah declared that the impugned notification issued by the higher education department on May 25 would remain suspended until further orders.

It took exception to the violation of the court’s order to stop the authorities from acting against the VC and directed the respondents, including principal secretary to the governor, to submit their response to the violation of the order.

The bench asked officials of the higher education department how the vice-chancellor could be removed if there was a clear order of the high court against it.

On April 22, Gomal University VC Prof Iftikhar was sent on forced leave for 90 days by Governor Shah Farman, who is the chancellor of public sector universities in the province, under Section 12(8) of the University Act, 2012.

The former VC later challenged the move and requested the court to restrain the respondents, including governor, and HED from acting against him.

The petitioner’s counsel, Qazi Mohammad Anwar, informed the bench that during the previous hearing, the court ordered the government not to take any action against his client, but in a sheer violation of that order, the petitioner was removed from his post through a notification on May 25.

He said he had also filed a contempt petition against the chancellor and HED secretary.

When the bench asked a deputy secretary and director of the HED whether they had informed their high-ups about the stay order, they replied that the relevant law officer was informed about it.

Justice Roohul Amin wondered why the notification was issued despite the court’s order and whether the relevant officials didn’t respect the court. A law officer of the Governor’s Secretariat told the bench that he had conveyed the order to the principal secretary to the governor.

He said a meeting was held wherein all relevant officials were present.

The law order added that the petitioner was also asked to attend that meeting for personal hearing but he didn’t turn up leading to the issuance of the notification.

The bench declared that the relevant officers should explain in writing why they violated the court’s order.

Apart from the governor’s earlier order of sending him on forced leave, the petitioner has also challenged the Mar 16 decision of the provincial cabinet to upgrade the Faculty of Agriculture of the Gomal University as the full-fledged agriculture university.

He said a university by the name of Agriculture University DI Khan was functioning and its name was placed at Serial No 12 of the Schedule of KP University Act, 2012, and therefore, no new university with the same name could be created.

He said he, in good faith and the best interest of the university, wrote to the prime minister on Mar 18 to point out flaws in the government’s move.

The VC said the governor, in his capacity as the chancellor of the university, sent him on forced leave for a period of 90 days for opposing and criticising the government’s decisions.

He said the chancellor couldn’t issue that order without the advice of the government (cabinet) under Article 105 of the Constitution.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2021