SHEC allowed to meet, barred from taking decisions not in conformity with constitution

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday allowed the Sindh Higher Education Commission (SHEC) to hold its proposed meeting on Thursday but barred it from taking the decision that do not conform to the provisions of the country’s constitution.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, was hearing two identical petitions that challenged the establishment of SHEC.

Among others one petition was jointly filed by former chief of Higher Education Commission Dr Attaur Rehman and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Marvi Memon. Another petition was filed by Pak-China Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.

The petitioners had submitted that HEC was the domain of the federal legislature and no law could be promulgated which was contained in federal consolidated list for the establishment of SHEC. They submitted that the new law was a move to avoid verification process of lawmakers’ degrees which the federal Higher Education Commission had initiated on the orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

They pleaded the court declare the Sindh Higher Education Commission Act 2013 as unlawful and unconstitutional.

However, in response to the petition, the provincial government had stated in its comments that Sindh Assembly had enacted the law for establishment of SHEC strictly in accordance with the provisions of clause c of Article 142 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

During hearing on Wednesday, the court gave time to provincial law officer, Adnan Karim to forward his arguments on the next hearing.

Anwar Mansoor Khan, representing petitioners said that after the promulgation of SHEC Act 2013, the first meeting of SHEC was scheduled to be held tomorrow where the board members may make such decision which may be contrary to the provisions of the constitution as higher education commission was exclusive domain of the federal government.

In response, Mr. Adnan said the subject law and all acts thereof shall be strictly in conformity with the constitution of Pakistan and it would be incorrect to suggest that the said law in any way violated the constitution.

The court ruled that proposed meeting can be held but SHEC is restrained from implementing decision that may be made therein which may be contrary or in conflict with the provisions of the constitution of Pakistan.

The court directed petitioners’ counsel to file amended copy of the petition with the SHEC impleaded as the respondent. It directed SHEC’s counsel to file his comments on the next hearing.

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