KARACHI - The Sindh Assembly Friday passed the Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018 with a majority vote aimed at transferring the controlling authority of the 23 universities and two institutes to the chief minister from governor.

The opposition parties tore the copies of the bill and staged a walkout from the house over passage of the bill.

The bill was earlier deferred on Wednesday after introduction in the house due to the opposition protest and was tabled by the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro for clause by clause approval on Friday. Soon after the bill was tabled the opposition leader in Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hassan tried to speak on the bill but the deputy speaker did not allow him and said that the bill was already discussed and she would only take up clause by clause approval of it.

The opposition members then started protesting on their seats and raised slogans over corrupt practices of the provincial government and later staged walkout from the house.

The bill is aimed at shifting the controlling authority of the 23 public universities and two institutes from governor Sindh to the chief minister Sindh. After the passage of bill, the role of governor Sindh was eliminated from the public universities and degree awarding institutes..

According to the parliamentary affairs minister, the bill is aimed at transfer of powers to the province under the 18th amendment and since education comes under the provincial domain therefore the bill aims to consolidate the powers of the provincial authority that is the chief minister.

He said that it was similar bill like that of Sindh higher education commission bill. He said that the post of governor was constitutional and his duties are also related to it but the chancellorship is a legal post and thus its duties are also related to it. “Therefore it is necessary that a legal institution control the affairs of the chancellorship,” he said.

The bill would empower the chief minister from appointments to financial powers of the universities and from syndicate powers to formulating admission policies.

Taking advantage of the opposition walkout, the provincial government also passed two bills from the house with a majority including Sohail University Bill, 2017 and University Of Modern Sciences, Tando Muhammad Khan Bill, 2017. These bills were earlier also approved by the standing committee on higher, technical education and research, school education (upto matriculation) and special education.        

Talking to media outside the assembly, Khwaja Izharul Hassan warned of severe reaction over the passage of the bill and said that the opposition parties would not sit silently over the issue and would challenge it in the court of law.

“Today is a sad day as the standard of education is already declining in the province but the government is passing legislations that would further deteriorate the standard of education in the province,” he said.

He said that it was unfortunate that there is no provincial government department which is not blamed for corrupt practices or not under probe from NAB.

Speaking on the occasion, Faisal Subzwari said that the government was playing with the future of the province and has made the assembly as its guest room.

He also appealed the teaching community and other political parties to stage protest over the issue.

The House proceedings began over one and a half hour late with Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly in the chair. The house once again witnessed absence of ministers causing the lapse of call attention notices from the lawmakers. The deputy speaker expressed her annoyance over the attitude of the ministers and directed them to ensure their presence.

Out of the six call attention notice only one pertaining to delay in installation of CCTV cameras at temples across the province from MQM-P lawmaker Deewan Chand Chawla was responded by Minister for Minority Affairs Dr. Khatu Mal Jeewan who said that the work on the project was underway and would soon be completed.      

Meanwhile, the MQM-P defector who joined PPP and also voted for their candidate in Senate, Heer Soho on Friday came in the house and was welcomed with applause from the treasury benches.

The deputy speaker later adjourned the house proceedings for Monday.