HEC faces turbulence yet again

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ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC), which has been at the centre of different for nearly an year now, is in the limelight again for appointing two new members on deputation, without following due procedure. Not only this, the new acting executive director (ED) has been appointed in violation of orders given by the Supreme Court. However, HEC Spokesperson Ayesha Ikram says that the appointments have been done on deputation and the decisions with be endorsed in the meeting of the commission, to be held soon.

Since the retirement of former HEC Chairperson Dr Javaid Laghari in August last year, a race had begun for the appointment of the new chief. Not only the was the decision of the search committee rejected multiple times by the prime minister, he had also rejected the name of the current chairman of HEC, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, for the post. However, the high court was informed about the rejection and on April 15, without completing the interview process, a surprise announcement was made appointing Dr Mukhtar as the new head of the commission.

According to an Establishment Division notification, dated June 6, 2002, a list of three candidates was to be sent to the concerned authorities for the appointment of any officer on deputation. However, the HEC management has appointment two members without following this specified process.

An HEC official said that the commission did not prepare any list, nor did anyone bother to get the approval from HEC’s appointing authority.

“Mansoor Akbar Kundi from University of Balochistan has been appointed as member academics HEC and G. Raza Bhatti from Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur has been appointed as member for human resource development, on deputation. Both of the seats are for grade 22 officers and the members have been appointed for one year,” he said.

“Section 11 of the HEC Act clearly states that only an 18 member HEC commission can appoint officers of grade 19 and above, while the chairman can only appoint officers of grades 17 and 18,” he said.

The Supreme Court, in its decision dated December 17, 2012, ordered that the appointments have to be according to the prescribed procedure and even the acting ED has to be appointed by the HEC commission.

It is important to note that in November 2012, tension arose between HEC and the ministry of education. The then minister, Sheikh Waqas Akram, gave the acting charge of ED HEC to federal secretary of the ministry. Due to this, the matter was taken to the Supreme Court.

An official of HEC, requesting anonymity, said that after the decision of the Supreme Court, a meeting of the HEC commission was held and the current charge of ED HEC was given to Engr Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gillani.

“It is clear that even the temporary appointment of ED cannot be done without the discretion of HEC commission, which is the appointing authority,” he said.

HEC Spokesperson Ayesha Ikram told DNA the body has been facing issues regarding human resources, at the moment. Most of the seats in HEC are vacant, so it has been decided to make the appointment on deputation to run HEC’s affairs smoothly.

“Services of both of the members have been borrowed for a year to fill the vacuum and Mr Kundi has been appointed as the acting ED HEC. A meeting of the HEC commission will be held soon and the appointments will be endorsed during the meeting,” she said.