ISLAMABAD: Dismissing claims by various quarters, Member Implementation Commission and prominent legal expert S M Zafar on Thursday categorically stated that functions and powers of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) are fully protected as federal subject in the 18th Amendment and these cannot be devolved in favour of the provinces.
“The 18th Amendment provides full legal cover to functions and powers of the HEC and the Implementation Commission never possesses the mandate to take a decision of its devolution in favour of the provinces,” he said in a telephonic conversation with The News here on Thursday after his return from London. Referring to Item No 12 of the Federal Legislative List (Part II), he said the 18th Amendment provides legal cover to “Standards, institutions for higher education, research, scientific and technical institutions”.
He said the government can carry out legislation in parliament regarding the HEC but it cannot involve its devolution in it because it would be against the spirit of the 18th Amendment.
Legal wizard S M Zafar, who is one of the authors of the 18th Amendment, said the HEC is a regulatory body in the higher education sector and according to the 18th Amendment, ‘all regulatory authorities established under the federal law’ are treated as federal subject and cannot be devolved.
To a question about the establishment of a new department under the Cabinet Division in place of the HEC, he said he has written a letter to the Cabinet Division and insisted that any such decision can be taken by the parliamentary committee and only the issuance of notification cannot serve this purpose. He said the Presidential Ordinance 2002 gives an independent status to the HEC and any decision to make any change can be taken through the Council of Common Interests as the Implementation Commission is not legally authorized to itself take any decision in this respect.
Talking to this correspondent, former HEC’s chairman Dr Attaur Rehman said that if one institution is replaced by another, then there should be any logic behind it but in this case “we see that the government functionaries are just using the 18th Amendment as a pretext without giving any solid reason why an independent and reputed institution like the HEC is being replaced by another institution to be established under the Cabinet Division.”
He said if the government wants to ‘punish’ the HEC for its strict stance over the degree verification process, then teachers and students from across the country can stand against this politically motivated decision.He said the government was trying to fool the people on the pretext of 18th Amendment.The news