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Discontinuation of theology at intermediate level stayed

PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court has issued a stay order suspending action on a notification issued by the Peshawar Board of Intermediate and Secondary to discontinue theology subject at the intermediate level in colleges.

A bench, consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed Attique Shah, issued notices to the provincial education secretary and Peshawar BISE chairman asking them to respond to a petition challenging the discontinuation of theology subject at intermediate level by the board.

It issued the order after holding preliminary hearing into the petition of advocate Gul Daraz Khan.

The petitioner requested the court to declare illegal the Dec 27, 2018, notification of the BISE Peshawar for discontinuing theology subject at intermediate level in colleges in its jurisdiction.

Noor Alam Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, said the joint academic committee of the Peshawar BISE met on Sept 18, 2018, and decided to discontinue admissions and registration of students in theology group at intermediate level.

He said a notification was issued on Dec 27, 2018, asking all educational institutions covered by the Peshawar BISE to implement the decision of the joint committee and discontinue the examinations in the theology subject and group from the 2019 academic session.

The lawyer said the decision of the joint committee was illegal and went against the guidelines provided by the Constitution.

He said Article 31 of the Constitution had made it clear that the state shall take steps to enable the Muslims of Pakistan individually and collectively to order their lives with fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and provide facility to them whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

The lawyer added that Article 2-A of the Constitution declared that Muslims should be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. He said the subject of theology was introduced at intermediate level as an optional subject in 1949 and that besides regular students, a number of private students also used to sit the theology examination.

The lawyer pointed out that the prospectus of historical Islamia College University, Peshawar, showed that it had theology courses at BA/BSc (Honours) and MPhil levels and even producing PhD scholars in the subject of theology.

He said the directorate of curriculum and teachers education being the competent authority for developing curriculum had issue d letters on March 23 and 24 in 2009 by recommending the course of Islamic theology at the intermediate level.

The lawyer said from 2011 to 2019, around 2,320 students had taken admission to the theology group at intermediate (FA) level and therefore, the impugned decision to discontinue the registration of students in that group was irrational.–Dawn

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