The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the acting chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to appear before it on Sept 16 to explain how the University of Karachi was allowed to launch and run a PhD programme in law without having PhDs in its law faculty.
Headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh, a two-judge bench summoned the HEC’s acting chairman after a deputy director of the commission failed to give satisfactory replies to queries asked by the court regarding initiation of the KU’s PhD in law programme.
Expressing its dismay over the role of the HEC in the matter, the bench directed its acting chairman to appear and explain the role of the commission.
A group of PhD aspirants, including Qamar Shahzad, Saeed Shahzad and others, had petitioned the SHC stating that they had applied for admission and were called for interviews, but the interviewing panel conducted the interviews in an “unprofessional” manner and “irrelevant” questions were put to them.
They submitted that they were later surprised to know that none of the five members of the panel were PhDs in the relevant field of law and none of the members were actually having knowledge or service record in the area of legal education.
They further submitted that the interviewing panel for the admissions to the PhD programme was constituted illegally as none of them was a PhD in law and on such a score alone, the panel could be termed just a formality, which meant that the desired candidates must already have been shortlisted and the petitioners might only have been called to demonstrate that a selection process was held.
The petitioners’ counsel, Nasrullah Korai, said that the KU’s PhD programme in law had ignored several directions of the Supreme Court as there should be at least three relevant full-time PhD faculty members in a department to launch a PhD programme.
The petitioners pointed out that even the dean of the faculty of law presently available with the varsity was not a PhD in law but had done PhD in social work.
The court was asked to declare the PhD in law programme of the KU as illegal.
A direction was sought for the KU administration to reconstitute the interviewing panel having relevant qualifications for conducting the interviews afresh for admissions in the programme.
The petitioners also sought a direction for the HEC chairman to compel all the universities, including KU, to appoint the dean of the faculty concerned having the qualification of PhD in the relevant field.