The confusion surrounding the appointments of Vice Chancellors (VC) to four public sector universities has been put to rest – at least for now. The replaced VCs who were refusing to leave their post until notified by the Higher Education Department (HED) will make way for the new ones and some semblance of certainty can return to their respective varsities. Of course, this persisting confusion was not there because these VCs clung to their seats, but because the HED was not forwarding the notifications to the departing VCs because the department was waiting “for the nod” from the Chief Minister of Punjab.

This nod arrived on Saturday, when Shahbaz Sharif, presiding over a special meeting to review the matters regarding appointment of the vice chancellors in public universities of the province in the light of the Lahore High Court (LHC), gave directions to all concerned to obey the court orders.

While many will commend the Chief Minister for clearing up this fiasco in a prompt manner, we must realise that the fiasco emerged only because of his insistence that all government business goes through him. It is inconceivable in any other jurisdiction in any part of the world that a government department will ignore an executive and direct order from a High Court to wait for the go-ahead by a government official. Not only is this method inefficient, it is in contempt of court. Had the Chief Minister not given his go-ahead or had gotten embroiled in other issues, would the HED have held off the notification indefinitely?

The Punjab government needs to give the due respect to court orders; this is not the first instance of its flippant attitude towards it. A large portion of the confusion caused by the VC case could have been avoided had it done so.