The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday directed chief secretaries across provinces to expedite the selection process for vacant vice chancellor positions in public sector universities.
The ECP maintained that on completion of the selection process, prior concurrence of the commission may be asked before the issuance of appointment orders of the selected vice-chancellors.
This move follows revelations that 25 public sector universities in Punjab were operating without lawfully appointed vice-chancellors.
The Higher Education Department (HED) Punjab, in a letter, urged the secretary services to bring the matter before the ECP to prevent impending administrative and financial crises.
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According to HED, the lapse of statutory tenures left these universities without lawfully appointed vice-chancellors, disrupting core functions such as academic processes, administrative controls, decision-making, and financial management.
HED asserted that waiting for the newly-elected government is not feasible, given the urgent need for appointments. The ECP had earlier granted concurrence on August 18, 2023, for advertising the vice chancellor position at Islamia University, Bahawalpur only.
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Highlighting the time, energy, and resources involved in the appointment process, HED proposed simultaneous appointments for all vacant positions.
The HED, in its letter, mentioned that the Lahore High Court (LHC) on April 12, 2023, had directed to complete the process of appointment of vice chancellor of the University of the Punjab within two months.
It was under these imperative and urgent matters of public interest, and orders of the court that the HED was constrained to take up the matter of making appointments against different vacant positions of Public Sector Universities, it argued.
The HED justified its actions under the Election Act, 2017, empowering the caretaker government to undertake urgent activities in the public interest. It cited a Supreme Court judgment from April 22, 2018, emphasizing that public sector universities cannot be left without permanent vice-chancellors.