ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will Tuesday (tomorrow) resume hearing in different petitions challenging the promulgation of various ordinances including Elections (Second Amendment) Ordinance about electronic voting in the elections, Higher Education Commission (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 and others.

A division bench of IHC comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq will conduct hearing of petitions filed against the frequent use of the presidential ordinances during the almost three-year rule of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Previously, the IHC bench had directed the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to present arguments in this matter and provide the court the details of dates when the President had summoned the Parliament’s session and also directed to provide the details about date of issuance of these ordinances. In this matter, the 15 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 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 commission.

Earlier, the IHC single bench had also restrained the government from appointing a new chairman and 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.

They stated in the petition that to the shock and horror of the petitioners, the Respondent No.3 (Federal Ministry of Education and Professional Training) clearly acting in a malafide manner on the dictates of the present federal government suggested amendments in the Ordinance, 2002, on the ridiculous pretext that “in [the] post Covid era, the paradigm of Higher Education System and its delivery mode has undergone tremendous changes,” and furthermore that the process and criteria of tenured appointments need to be reviewed in order to “keep pace with the changing eco-system of 21st century skills.”

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). 

In another petition, Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha Member of the National Assembly (MNA) belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) challenged the newly promulgated Elections (Second Amendment) Ordinance about electronic voting in the elections.  In the petition, Ranjha stated that President of Pakistan has promulgated Elections (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 and even though this Ordinance is only a one-pager, it makes important legislative overhauls of the electoral procedure regime in Pakistan.