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Thursday, December 4, 2008

NA body chief seeks CJ’s resignation
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Government blocks discussion on Farah Dogar case
News Desk

RAWALPINDI: The Chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, Abid Sher Ali, has asked Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar to tender his resignation over the issue of extra marks for his daughter.

Abid Sher Ali has also asked the Ministry of Education to stop the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE)’s chairperson from functioning and make the controller and the assistant controller of the board officers-on-special duty.

Talking to the media after a meeting of the standing committee in Islamabad on Wednesday, the chairman of the committee also said that the two examiners who had refused to award extra marks to Farah Hamid Dogar should be promoted to the next grade and awarded commendation certificates. He said that male examiners should not be appointed for practical papers at the educational institutions for girls.

Usman Manzoor adds: The government made all out efforts on Wednesday to derail the proceedings of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Education on the issue of the extra marks given to the daughter of Chief Justice of Pakistan, arguing that the subject was sub judice in a court of law.

Federal Minister for Education Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani tried his utmost that the said issue should not be discussed in the meeting and repeated at least “37” times that under the rules of the National Assembly, an issue which was sub judice cannot be discussed in any meeting of a committee of National Assembly.

While the members of the committee, at large, kept on saying that the matter was not sub judice as only a writ petition had been filed in the Islamabad High Court, it had not been accepted and no date was yet fixed for hearing.

The committee meeting was fixed again for Thursday to discuss whether the matter was sub judice or not, and the law minister, Barrister Akram Sheikh, Barrister Zafarullah, Ahsan Iqbal, Naseer Bhutta and Babar Awan have been called by the committee to discuss the issue whether the committee can discuss the issue.

The meeting started an hour late because of the controversy that the speaker had banned the entry of media to cover the proceedings of the committee, but later, the speaker herself said that she had no objection but rules must be followed.

The federal minister for education kept on reading rule 241 of the rules of business of the National Assembly that a sub judice matter could not be discussed in the parliament.

Abid Sher Ali, the Chairman of the Committee, kept repeating that every matter could be made sub judice by filing a writ petition and gave an example that if Parliament was discussing the Fata issue and a writ petition was filed in any court the matter would become sub judice and that would stop Parliament from discussing the issue?

Begum Nuzhat Sadiq said that if the court delays the judgment for five years then the girl would become MBBS doctor then who would reverse the degree. When the education minister insisted that the matter could not be discussed, the chairman of the committee went for consent of the members of whom Tasneem Siddiqui, Nuzhat Sadiq and Farzana Mushtaq Ghani wanted that the issue be discussed in the committee against the wishes of the federal minister while Rubina Saadat Qaim Khani, Shakeela Khanam Rashid and Shamshad Sattar Bachani were of the view that rules be followed in the committee and if a matter was sub judice in a court of law then it should not be discussed.

During the meeting the members National Assembly from Pakistan People’s Party Rubina Saadat Qaim Khani and Shamshad Sattar Bachani said that injustice had been done to thousands of students across the country, and those responsible should be brought to justice, but rules must be followed.

Abid Sher Ali and Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani kept on requesting each other—one saying that the proceedings of the committee be carried on, and the other saying that rules did not allow. “Parliament is supreme and we are the law makers, so no one can stop us from discussing any matter,” said Abid Sher Ali at one occasion adding: “The committee has neither received any written order from the Islamabad High Court that it cannot discuss the issue of Farah Hameed Dogar nor the Education Ministry had provided any such notice.”

He said that it was the duty of the parliamentarians to highlight such injustices done by high officials. The chairman also praised the media for coming out with such scandals. He said that bounding Parliament and its committees not to discuss any matter of public interest was like tying the hands of Parliament as thousands of students were affected by rewarding extra marks to Farah Hameed Dogar by the FBISE.

Earlier, the meeting was briefed by the Editor Investigations of The News, Ansar Abbasi, who was specially invited by the committee. After briefing the committee Ansar Abbasi said: “We should not misuse rules and institutions to save the mighty and the elite for their wrongs.” “Rules are for fools; wise men make them and wise men break them,” he added.

At the end of the meeting, the chairman of the committee also made recommendations that the chairperson of FBISE and controller and assistant controller of the board be stopped from working as they may create hurdles in the transparent inquiry of the case.

The chairman also constituted a sub-committee, comprising Begum Nuzhat Sadiq, Miss Tasneem Siddiqui and Zubaida Jalal to probe the issue and submit a report in a week. The chairman also recommended that those examiners who refused to re-assess the papers be promoted and an inquiry be initiated against those who re-assessed the papers of Ms Dogar.

He also recommended that only female examiners be appointed as invigilators at the examination centres where females take their papers. Abid Sher Ali, the chairman of the committee, took serious notice of the cold attitude of the chairperson of the FBISE, Shaheen Khan, who refused to utter a single word on the questions asked to her by the chairman and the members of the committee.

The silence of the chairperson FBISE was fully supported by the education minister, and she was hesitant to answer the question that whether the re-assessment was allowed in any case or not. The members and the chairman also raised the question that chairperson FBISE was suspended and how come she became the chairperson of FBISE.

After prolonged arguments of the members of the committee and chairman the chairperson FBISE read out the rules of the board, which stated that “The answer book for a candidate in any examination shall not be re-assessed under any circumstances. The re-checking does not mean re-assessment or re-evaluation of the answer book.”

The chairman said that the chairperson FBISE was answerable before the committee and also read out the rule that empowered the committee to summon any person and inquire from him or her. He snubbed the chairperson FBISE when she sought the consent of federal minister to speak and said that she must seek the permission of the chairman and no one else.

Abid Sher Ali took serious notice of absence of former chairman FBISE, Commodore (R) Shamshad, who had ordered the reassessment of the papers of Farah Hameed Dogar. The current chairperson of FBISE walked out of the previous meeting of the committee after the State Minister for Education Ghulam Farid Kathia objected to the presence of a journalists in the meeting and had himself walked out.

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