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LHC issues notices to governor, PU VC on plea

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The Lahore High Court on Monday issued notices to the Punjab governor being chancellor of Punjab University and vice chancellor on a petition challenging appointment of ‘influential’ candidates as professor of School of Communication Studies (SCS).

Associate Professor Dr Shabbir Sarwar filed the petition through his counsel Safdar Shaheen Pirzada.

The counsel alleged that Sawera Mujeeb Shami, daughter of senior journalist Mujeebur Rehman Shami, Dr Mian Hannan Ahmad, a brother of SCS Director Dr Noshina Saleem and Dr Lubna Zaheer, having recommendation of PML-N Senator Irfan Siddiqui, had been appointed as professors in violation of rules and regulations.

He said there had been favoritism, misuse of authority, violation of rules and regulations in the selection process i.e. from the advertisement to the issuance of appointment notification.

He pointed out that only six days (four working days) were given to submit applications for the post of professor of communication studies after corrigendum advertisement to minimize competition while the university gives 60 days to apply for the post of professor as per its years-old practice and regulations.

The counsel submitted that the meeting to recommend the names of the panel of foreign experts/referees was never convened in violation of university rules and regulations. He said the list of experts was prepared by the director, school of communication studies, whose real brother was also an applicant, and he was finally appointed.

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He said for the second seat, the vice chancellor, while misusing his authority, sent cases for evaluation to those foreign referees who were recommended by Dr Ayesha Ashfaq, wife of the host of Shami’s talk show on a private TV channel. He said both foreign referees were PhD and post PhD supervisors of Dr Ayesha who was PhD supervisor of candidate Dr Sawera Shami.

Advocate Pirzada said Dr Ayesha jointly published research work with candidate Dr Sawera as well as both the foreign referees, which is a clear case of conflict of interest.

He contended that the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan did not award even a six-month foreign scholarship to a candidate in case the foreign referee was the supervisor of his/her local supervisor.

The counsel said the petitioner had been ignored despite standing first in terms of first author research publications and professional experience among all the candidates. He asked the court to set aside the impugned appointments for being made in an illegal manner.

After hearing the arguments of the petitioner’s counsel, Justice Shakeel Ahmad sought replies from the respondents for a date to be fixed later by the registrar office.

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