Posts of VCs: PhDs from abroad can be selected

LAHORE, July 3: The Punjab Higher Education Department search committee’s decision to prefer candidates having PhD degrees from top foreign universities is no discrimination against candidates having doctorate degrees from local universities.


“A student who spends five years in learning process of universities of Harvard, Stanford, John Hopkins, NYU, University of Southern California, Cambridge University, University of Virginia and many such seats of learning compete on merit with millions of students getting education from all over the world in such universities,” says an LHC single bench detailed order through which petitions questioning the process of VCs’ appointments and eligibility of search committee private members
were dismissed on June 24 last.


Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh in his verdict on the petitions observed that the PhDs of such universities needed to be given due recognition and if the same was denied to them it would be an act of discrimination against the highly-qualified persons.


He said the academic standards of these universities had been surveyed for determining their ranking the world over and this ranking had been given due recognition in the academic and education spheres. No illegality could be found to be attributable upon giving due recognition to the qualification of such foreign universities, he said.


“It is also a settled principle of law as recognised by the superior courts of Pakistan that where there is a reasonable classification made in a particular matter, this step is itself considered as sufficient in negating the allegations of discrimination,” the judge said and added that the arguments of the petitioners’ counsel that by allowing five additional
marks to an advanced learning undergone by PhD degree holders from top ranking 500 universities of the world was an act of discrimination had no legal force or factual strength and was repelled.


The counsel also challenged the evaluation criteria determined by members of the search committee but the judge rejected the argument as not sustainable in the eye of law.


The petitioners also questioned the eligibility of three private members of the search committee on the basis of the fact that they were not holders of PhD degrees. The three members are Syed Babar Ali, Sartaj Aziz and Let-Gen Muhammad Akram Khan (retired).


However, the judge rejected this argument as well, observing that the valuable services rendered by these private members of the committee in heading and successfully running the top universities of the country needed to be duly acknowledged.


Justice Sheikh observed that the petitioners had failed to attribute any mala fides to these members of the search committee.


The judge also reproduced antecedents of these three members in his order.


The judge held: “The process initiated, conducted and to be finalised for filling the vacancies in the posts of vice chancellors of the six universities in question does not suffer from any illegality, is on the face of it transparent and is being supervised by a search committee comprising well-known educationists of the country which is working under the guidelines of higher education commission and this court does not find any legal flaw in the course of being adopted by the committee for the purpose.


“No case for interference having been made by the petitioners in the matter, therefore, the instant writ petitions are accordingly dismissed,” the verdict said.


Dr Hassan Amir Shah, Dr Shaukat Ali, Dr Yousaf Hayat Khan, Dr Maqbool Hussain and Dr Bushra Khan filed the petitions. They were not shortlisted for interview by the authorities for, what the government argued before the court, felling lower in the merit list finalised by search committee.


Advocate Anwar Kamal addressed arguments in all petitions. An additional advocate-general, Muhammad Hanif Khatana defended the Punjab government. Higher Education Department Additional Secretary Ms Shama Zia and Deputy Secretary Ghulam Sarwar also appeared in the case.Dawn.

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