LAHORE - Punjab University vice chancellor will file an intra-court appeal against the Lahore High Court judgment wherein the government was asked to appoint the senior most professors as the VCs of the universities, his lawyer said Thursday.

The aim behind filing the intra-court appeal is to get a stay order against the ruling and stop the Punjab government from appointing the new vice chancellor.

After the Lahore High Court decision the Punjab government would appoint the senior most professors as the vice chancellors of the varsities or file an intra-court appeal against the decision.

When contacted, the Higher Education Department (HED) officers refused to comment on the judgment saying they didn’t read the verdict. However, they said that the government wanted to settle the long-delayed litigation on the VCs’ appointment case.

An officer of the Higher Education Department requesting anonymity told this paper that the VC of the Punjab University Dr Mujahid Kamran was the main affectee as per the reported LHC decision who would be removed from his seat. He said that in rest of the universities - Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Sargodha (UoS), and Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology - the senior most professors would be posted as VCs as a stop gap arrangement. He said the HED and the HEC would devise a fresh strategy to appoint the VCs as per the law and court directions.

As per the court order, he added, the government had to appoint the senior most faculty members as the VCs in the said universities.

Sources said Dr Taqi Zahid Butt was the senior most professor and could be the new acting VC of the Punjab University, Dr Bushra Khan, Prof Emeritus, would be the VC of the Lahore College for Women University Lahore. Dr Bushra Khan has already challenged the seniority of the VC Dr Uzma Quraishi in the LHC.

Dr Nazra Sultana, senior most professor of mathematics and dean has already replaced the acting VC Dr Dr Zahoor-ul-Hassan Dogar as VC of Sargodha University. Dogar was the PRO-Vice Chancellor and was posted as VC on the retirement of former VC Dr Akram Ch. There is no professor in the Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology Multan that could be posted as VC, said the sources. However, it could not be confirmed.

The PU acting VC Dr Mujahid Kamran was not available for comments. However, his lawyer Khurram Saeed said that there was no ambiguity in the LHC decision to appoint the VCs within seven days. He said he would file an intra-court appeal to get a stay order. The government could not appoint a new VC till the decision of the appeal, he held. He said that if the court didn’t award his client a stay order, the government could make a new appointment for the VC in the Punjab University. He said that he could go to the Supreme Court.

One of his close companions, also an associate professor, said that the court had given the relief which was not demanded by the petitioner. The Punjab government, a major stakeholder in the case, should go for the intra-court appeal or the VC Dr Kamran after consulting his legal adviser could do the same. Commenting on the reported LHC judgment, the associate professor said, as the court set aside the entire process, some of the provisions of the Public Sector Universities (Amendment) Act, 2012 were also set aside. Moreover, it was reported that it was not the Punjab government prerogative to appoint the VCs rather the federal HEC’s. He said the verdict opened a new Pandora’s box on all the appointments made under the existing system. He said that if the present VCs were removed what would be the fate of the other VCs of the seven universities whose names the search committee had recommended and the Punjab government approved their appointment.

When contacted Prof Dr Taqi Zahid Butt, who claimed to be the senior most professor, said the government would notify the new VC within given time. “If it fails, it would be a contempt of court,” he added.

A faculty member of the LCWU, requesting anonymity, said the VC Dr Uzma Quraishi lacked the required criteria necessary for a full professor. She didn’t meet the post-doctorate publications and the experience to become a professor, she said. Moreover, the VC took policy decisions in the syndicates during her tenure on look after charge which was restricted by LHC, she held. She failed to take notice of severe violations of law pointed out by many concerned. Moreover, she dismissed a senior faculty member acting beyond her lawful limits as the VC on look-after charge basis.

A senior professor of the Punjab University, welcoming the LHC judgment, said the court should also look into many other aspects like illegal appointments in varsities, out of turn promotions, nepotism and violation of other rules. He said the PU VC didn’t appoint pro-VCs in the university. The same was the situation at the LCWU that was being run without a pro-VC, treasurer, controller and the registrar. The situation at other universities was not better, he added. He said the Punjab government should order strict audit of the universities because there were severe violations and charges of corruption on the position holders.

An eminent lawyer Saad Rasool who had pleaded the case for the petitioners, reportedly said that Dr Mujahid Kamran had been running the Punjab University as a one-man show for the last nine years. After the judgment, regular vice chancellors will be appointed in accordance with law at each of the four universities, he held.

Naseer Ahmad Kamboh, a senior lawyer, said it would be binding on the court to implement its order within stipulated time. However, the government could challenge the verdict. He said that if government or any aggrieved party challenged the judgment it would add to miseries of already suffering higher education sector. He said the judgment was much delayed because of the PU, HED and HEC lawyers using delaying tactics.