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IHC orders Govt to appoint Chairman HEC within 15 days

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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the Federal Government to appoint the Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) within 15 days.

A single‑member bench comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued the directives while hearing of a plea filed by Khawaja Aurangzeb through his lawyer Barrister Afzal Hussain.

During the course of hearing,Federal Secretary Ministry of Education, Training & High Standards in Higher Education,Muhammad Ahsan Raja appeared on the order of the court and said that the prime minister has turned down the summary sent by the ministry for the appointment of chairman HEC.

He said that the Prime Minister again constituted a search committee under the Chairmanship of Federal Minister Water and Power Khawaja Asif for the appointment of Chairman HEC.

Justice Shaukat Siddiqui  expressed displeasure for not appointing Chairman HEC  and remarked that  despite government assurances, the chairman HEC has not been appointed and added it would be better the government itself appoints the chairman HEC within 15 days or else Pandora box of the ministers’ rift would open in the court unveiling several persons behind the screen.

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, which has also been reported in print and electronic media.

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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 said.

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.

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