LAHORE - The Lahore High Court last week appointed acting vice chancellors of four universities, from the list provided by the Punjab government, and replaced the incumbents whose appointment had been challenged.

This landmark decision also affected permanent vice chancellors of other seven universities of Punjab, making them acting vice chancellors till the final decision on the Punjab government’s appeal against the single bench order.

The LHC, through the order, implemented one of the two parts of its previous order by deciding the fate of the incumbent acting vice-chancellors of four varsities.

Among the acting vice-chancellors whose appointment was declared illegal include: Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran of Punjab University, Prof Dr Uzma Qureshi of Lahore College for Women University, Prof Dr Nazra Sultana of University of Sargodha, and Prof Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid of Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology, Multan.

The other part of the LHC order, which was related to the powers and jurisdiction of the central and provincial governments, is still pending for the decision.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, directed the attorney general of Pakistan and advocate general to assist it over the constitutional question whether the provincial governments were independent to appoint VCs or it was a federal subject. The court will resume hearing by January 12.

Another important decision announced during the week was about the petition of a visually impaired person whose application for the post of Senior Elementary School Educator (SESE) on open merit was denied by the government.

Declaring the Punjab government’s recruitment policy for disabled persons “unconstitutional”, Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah directed it to reframe the policy.

Hafiz Junaid Mahmood had challenged the recruitment policy after being denied job of Senior Elementary School Educator (SESE) on open merit.

The court allowed his petition, with directions to the Punjab government to consider his candidacy. The court ruled that a visually impaired person can be appointed as teacher and persons with different abilities are eligible to be recruited on open merits in addition to quota reserved for disabled persons.

The decision was encouraging for many other physically challenged persons who will come forward and contribute to national development. In private institutions, they are not considered but unfortunately, the state institutions also do not give them space.

The issue of permit for Qatari family also remained prominent in the court during the last week. The LHC summoned Wildlife department secretary to explain as why members of Qatar’s royal family were allowed hunting of Houbara Bustard. CJ Shah asked the law officer whether the permission of hunting houbara bastard was granted simply due to the wish of the foreigners.

The petitioner’s counsel stated that the hunting permission was equal to killing Houbara Bastard at all. He further maintained it was against the international level agreements while permission to Royal Qatari family was given without the approval of provincial cabinet, which was unlawful.

The petitioner’s counsel prayed to the court to set aside permission granted to the royal family and order the authorities to explain why and how they allowed hunting of such rare kind of bustard family birds.

In January this year, the SC had lifted ban on the hunting of houbara bustard, a rare desert bird whose meat is prized among Arab sheikhs as an aphrodisiac. A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, announced the verdict on the review petitions filed by the federal and provincial governments against the ban.

In a 4-1 majority ruling, the court lifted the ban on hunting of the endangered bird; however, Justice Qazi Faez Isa wrote a dissenting note opposing the bench's order. The court held that there was "apparent error on the face of record" and set aside its Aug 19 judgment. In its 16-page judgement, the top court said the "role of the judiciary is to interpret the laws and not to legislate".

"Examination of the laws clearly shows that permanent ban on hunting of houbara bustard is not envisaged."

“Hunting of protected animals is prohibited whereas licence is required to hunt game animals,” the court said in its verdict, adding that provincial governments exercise the discretionary power to classify animals as ‘protected’ or ‘game’ species.

The Balochistan Act, 2014 places houbara bustard both in protected and game animal categories, the court noted. However, the LHC will resume hearing by January 25.

During the week, the LHC also sought replies from the election commission and others till January 16 on a petition challenging eligibility of unopposed elected Lahore mayor Col (r) Mubashir Javed. A petitioner had submitted that Mubashar Javed had been in government service and could not contest election before a period of two years after leaving the job.

Mubashar Javed also served as chief warden of civil defence department and member of evacuee trust property board, the petitioner told the court. He argued Mubashir Javed was not eligible to contest any election and should be declared disqualified to hold office of mayor.

An assistant advocate general Anwaar Hussain, while opposing the petition, held the petitioner had not provided the court with any documentary evidence to prove his allegations against the mayor. He stated the petition failed to establish that Mubashar Javed had been getting remuneration from the government against any service; hence the petition should be dismissed.