ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday restrained the federal government from appointing a new chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). 

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition filed by fifteen eminent scholars and educationists against the Higher Education Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 and Higher Education Commission (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 and the removal of Tariq Banuri as the Chairman of the HEC.  

The IHC bench in its order asked the government to refrain from appointing a new HEC chairman until the next hearing to be held on June 8. The court also issued notices to secretaries of the cabinet division, law, education, HEC and the former HEC chairman and directed them to submit their responses in this matter. 

The petitioners including Mosharraf Ali Zaidi, Prof. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Prof. Dr. M Asif Khan, Syed Ahmed Masood, Prof. Dr. A H Nayyar, Prof. Dr. Naazish Attaullah, Prof. Ms. Salima Hashm and others moved the court through Faisal Siddiqui Advocate.  

The counsel for the petitioners said that the tenure of the appointment had also been reduced while the terms used in the ordinance were also for specific objectives. He added that the HEC chairman could only be dismissed under the sub-section 6 (of the regulations). 

Therefore, he prayed to the court to permanently restrain the Respondents from again removing Dr. Tariq Banuri from his tenure post of four years as Chairperson of the HEC during his tenure of four years ending on 29-5-2022 (plus the entire time period during which he was illegally removed) and also permanently restrain the Respondents from appointing any other person as Chairperson of the HEC during the tenure of Banuri ending on 29-5-2022 (plus the entire time period during which he was illegally removed) 

Banuri was appointed at the post by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in May 2018 and he was to complete his tenure in May 2022. 

On March 27, the present government had announced the removal of Dr Tariq Banuri as the chairman of HEC with immediate effect. A notification issued by the Cabinet Secretariat reads, “In terms of sub-section (5), read with sub-section (5A), of Section 6 of HEC Ordinance, 2002, as amended vide HEC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, Dr Tariq Banuri has ceased to be the chairperson, HEC forthwith and is accordingly removed from the said post with immediate effect.”