IHC gives govt 15 days to appoint HEC chairman

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the government to appoint the chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) within next 15 days.
The single-member bench of the IHC comprising Justice Shaukat Siddiqui issued the direction while hearing a petition filed by Khawaja Aurangzeb through his counsel Barrister Afzal Hussain. In his remarks, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said, “It would be better for the government itself to ensure the appointment of chairman HEC within the stipulated time of next 15 days.” Federal Education Secretary Ahsan Raja appeared in the IHC on its order and submitted that the prime minister has struck down the summary earlier sent by the ministry for the selection of the chairman HEC. 
He further added that the PM has constituted a search committee under the Chairmanship of Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif for the appointment of Chairman HEC. Justice Shaukat Siddiqui expressed annoyance and irritated for not appointing Chairman HEC and remarked that despite government assurances, the chairman HEC has not been appointed yet. He remarked that the chairman HEC‘s office is a statutory position and non-appointment of a permanent HEC chairman is a very serious issue. Barrister Afzal Hussian, the counsel for petitioner, apprised the bench that the office of Chairman HEC is lying vacant since August 26, 2013.  He argued that on November 8, 2013, the court directed the Joint Secretary, ministry of education to appear before it and inform it about the steps taken for the appointment of Chairman HEC. However, the appointment of Chairman could not be made so far.
Barrister Afzal stated that as per HEC Act, the federal government has to appoint a regular chairman within 90 days. The slot of a permanent chairman HEC is still lying vacant even after lapse of six months, which is affecting the affairs of the higher education regulatory body, he added. Afzal argued that as per HEC Ordinance 2002, all the key decisions related to higher education have to be taken by the Commission’s board, which is headed by its Chairman and the Secretariat acts as the executing wing of the Commission which is responsible for implementation of all the orders, decisions, directives of the board as per sections 1 and 2 of the HEC Ordinance, 2002.
Earlier, on the petition of Dr Attaur Rehman, former HEC chairman, the IHC had ordered the federal government to fill the vacant post of the chairman HEC by February 12. The slot for chairman HEC lying vacant since August 26, last year, after the completion of Dr. Javed Laghari’s contract. The petitioner has requested the court to direct the federal government to appoint someone as the Higher Education Commission chairman.

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