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Court challenges HEC chief’s appointment

HEC 1

Islamabad: A local court in Islamabad has asked the officials of Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Ministry of Education and selection committee, to submit their replies within 15 days. The officials are required to clarify their position on the allegedly unfair appointment of the chief of Higher Education Commission (HEC), where some violations of rules are also suspected.

Islamabad High Court’s – Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has recently issued notices to these officials and the Chairman of the Selection Committee – Khwaja Asif, along with the the HEC Chairman – Dr Mukhtar Ahmad. The court hearing has been adjourned till the first week of August.

Four petitions have been filed in the IHC against the appointment of Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, his dual degree, modified salary package and alleged irregularities. However, the court has merged all these 4 identical petitions.

According to some reports; Arsal Ikram, who was among the petitioners, has maintained before the court that; Dr Ahmad was appointed as HEC chairman in violation of rules and regulations.

He contended that the appointment was made in violation of competitive process of selection, suitability and fitness, as it was made without interviewing other candidates. The petitioner claimed that the PM Secretariat had set up a committee comprising Ahsan Iqbal, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Prof M.D. Shami for the appointment of HEC chairman. The committee advertised the post through ministry for education, earlier this year. “The committee received 103 applications. Of which, 21 candidates were shortlisted, while 18 were called for interviews,” the petitioner claimed.

The petition also stated that the head of the committee was absent when the interviews were conducted. The committee approved three candidates including Ahmad. “Prime Minister Secretariat, however, rejected all the names, due to allegations of unfairness in the entire process.”

Khwaja Asif also headed another search body, which was set-up to appoint a chairman. The panel was working when the Establishment Division issued the notification of the appointment of Ahmad, as HEC chairman, without conducting any interviews. Besides, Dr Ahmad is accused of obtaining two degrees in different disciplines in one academic year, which is not permissible under the law. The petitions also claimed that he did not meet the requirements advertised for the post. He has also been accused of unjustly increasing his salary.

July 9, 2014

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