Petitions against HEC Sindh: SHC annoyed at federal govt for not filing comments

KARACHI: : Sindh High Court (SHC) while expressing displeasure over the failure of federal government to file comments on petitions challenging the establishment of Sindh Higher Education Commission by Sindh government, gave it three weeks more time to furnish reply in case.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar cautioned federal law officer that no further time would be granted for filing comments of federal government in response to two identical petitions.

One of the petitions 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 organization.

The petitioners said 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 said that the Supreme Court had already decided that the HEC was a federal subject and protected under a constitutional provision mentioned in the Federal Legislative List; therefore, any action on the part of the Sindh government against the Supreme Court observation was unlawful and liable to be quashed forthwith unless a fresh piece of legislation was passed by the federal government.

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

Menwhile, provincial government in its comments stated that Sindh Assembly had enacted the law for establishment of Sindh Higher Education Commission strictly in accordance with the provisions of clause c of Article 142 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

It was stated that prior to 18th Amendment, higher education, curriculum, syllabus, planning, policy, centers of excellence and standard education were included in federal consolidated list but after the passage of 18th Amendment, such subjects were deleted from the concurrent list and provincial legislature is fully competent to enact the impugned law.

Unfortunately, the performance of the HEC has not remained above the board, particularly in the foreign scholarships. People of this province were provided less opportunities of foreign scholarships, it added.

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