LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Monday declared functioning of equivalence department of the University of Punjab as null and void, holding that it cannot issue equivalence certificates to the students applying for recognition of their degrees.

Justice Atir Mehmood of the LHC announced the reserved verdict on petition filed by Wajid Ali, a local citizen. The judge held that it is the authority of the High Education Commission to recognize the degrees issued by varsities.  Punjab University, the judge held, has no jurisdiction or authority to do so. The court observed that no further objection can be raised by any university if the degree is recognized by the HEC.

Earlier the petitioner’s counsel Advocate Sheraz Zaka argued that  it is the sole prerogative of HEC to recognise degrees and not of any university. He said  PU is exploiting students and has opened equivalence department. He said that the varsity is charging Rs 1000 for issuance of equivalence certificate.  He further argued that under Higher Education Commission Ordinance 2002,  the HEC is vested with the authority to recognise degrees. He stated that the standards of higher education is a federal subject, hence the authority to recognise degrees is vested with HEC not the PU .

After formation of Legal Education Rules 2015, the only authority to recognise degrees vested with the HEC and the Pakistan Bar Council regarding recognition of LLB degrees, the counsel said. And other than LLB degrees, the sole authority to issue equivalence certificate was vested with the HEC under Section10 of the Higher Education Commission Ordinance, he said. The counsel also said the PU had been acting beyond its powers and extorting money from students in the name of issuance of equivalence certificates for admission in masters programmes. He prayed that impugned department of the PU be declared as illegal .

PETITIONS FOR MODEL TOWN INQUIRY REPORT

The LHC directed the registrar office to consolidate all petitions seeking direction for Punjab government to public judiciary inquiry report of Model Town incident.  Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali passed the order when a law officer on behalf of the Punjab government said that the some other petitions for fixed before the court for April 11.  He pleaded the court to connect the petition with already pending petitions.

Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi, a local lawyer, had moved the petition submitting that Justice Ali Baqar Najafi had held the inquiry into the incident and handed over the report to the government. However, he said, the government refused to release the report claiming that the making any such inquiry public was the prerogative of the government.

The petitioner alleged that the government wanted to protect the culprits involved in the killings of peaceful workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek.