LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Punjab government and other respondents on a petition challenging the order of Punjab caretaker chief minister refraining Punjab Textbook Board from participating in the bids for development of manuscripts of textbooks.
The court issued this order on a petition of Muhammad Akhtar Sherani, general secretary of Punjab Textbook Board Employees Welfare Society, challenging the order of the caretaker CM. The judge sought replies from the respondents by or before June 03, the next date of hearing. The petitioner has made chief secretary Punjab, Punjab Curriculum Authority, Punjab Textbook Board, secretary school education department, and caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi as central chairman Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association as respondents.
The petitioner through Advocate Hafiz Tariq Nasim submitted that in 1971 West Pakistan Textbook Board was substituted by the Punjab Textbook Board. Since its establishment, the PTB used to get the manuscript of textbooks written through open competition and after scrutinizing and getting approval from federal government published textbooks by itself or through private publishers. He added that after the 18th constitutional amendment, the subject of education has been devolved to the provinces, and the government of the Punjab has promulgated “The Punjab Curriculum Authority Act 2012” whereby the role of the PTB was curtailed but as per the provisions the PTB is also supposed to compete with any person in development and selection of textbooks.
The petitioner said that the private publishers with a view to grab the publication of text books and dethrone the PTB from open competition started maneuvering the situation. He said Najam Sethi being the chairman of Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association filed a representation before the then chief minister Punjab on June 12, 2012 requesting to refrain the PTB from developing manuscripts for its own books. He said the CM took no action on the representation and the Punjab Curriculum Authority published an advertisement on April 10, 2013 inviting bids from private persons and agencies including the PTB on open competition.
In pursuance of the advertisement, the PTB also applied for competing with other publishers but misfortune of the petitioner that before the finalisation of the bid, Mr Sethi, the complainant against the PTB, became the caretaker chief minister Punjab and barred the PTB from participating in the bid on an application filed before himself through vice chairman of Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association Saleem Malik on April 18, 2013.He said after the approval of the application, the Punjab Curriculum Authority readvertised for inviting bids for the manuscripts on May 13 ousting the PTB from participating in the open competition.
The petitioner said, this approval granted by the caretaker CM was illegal and unlawful and it is well settled axiom of law that “No one can be a judge of his own cause”.The petitioner prayed the court to set aside the advertisement of PCA dated May 13 and restore its advertisement dated April 10 allowing the PTB to participate in open competition for development of the manuscripts of the textbooks in accordance with the law. – Nation