Days after the federal government made the announcement of the removal of Higher Education Commission chairperson Dr Tariq Banuri with immediate effect, the Sindh High Court on Monday suspended the notification of the removal in the matter.
Granting a stay order in the matter, a single-member bench of the Justice Nadeem Akhtar issued directives to the federal government and Attorney General for Pakistan, saying the slot of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairperson shall remain vacant till the next date of hearing.
On March 27, the federal government made the announcement of the removal of the HEC chairperson Dr Tariq Banuri, with immediate effect while cabinet secretariat notification stated, “In terms of sub-section (5), read with sub-section (5A), of Section 6 of Higher Education Commission Ordinance, 2002, as amended vide Higher Education Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, Dr. Tariq Banuri has ceased to be the Chairperson, Higher Education Commission forthwith and is accordingly removed from the said post, with immediate effect”.
On Monday, invoking the SHC jurisdiction against his removal from the slot, Dr Tariq Banuri made secretaries of the Federal Cabinet, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and Higher Education Commission (HEC) as respondents.
Appearing on behalf of his client before the bench, Advocate Supreme Court Haider Waheed urged the court to declare the HEC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 ultra vires the Constitution amid declaring removal of Dr.Banuri from the office as illegal and mala fide.
Advocate Waheed apprised the bench that Section 6 (5) of the HEC Ordinance provides that the Chairperson of the HEC shall hold the office for a period of four years. Substantiating his arguments he submitted that under Section 6(6) the HEC Ordinance the Chairperson cannot be removed from the office before this term save on proven charges of corruption, inefficiency, permanent disability or failure to attend two consecutive meetings without intimation in advance.
He made a point saying none of the above grounds has been alleged in the impugned notification which clearly shows that the plaintiff has not been removed on any of the grounds specified in the HEC Ordinance. Advocate Waheed further contended that such fact is sufficient ground to comprehend that the impugned notification is illegal.
After a brief hearing of the matter, the bench granted the stay order in the matter saying, “Issue notice to the respondents as well as to the Attorney General for Pakistan. Notice shall be served upon respondents through courier service and facsimile. Till the next date of hearing, the post of the Chairperson HEC shall be kept vacant by the respondent. To be listed on April 01, 2021 at 11 a.m”.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at email@example.com