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Bishop’s plea fails in Edwardes College dispute

11 October 2019

Creative Commons

Edwardes College, Hostel, in Peshawar, Pakistan

Edwardes College, Hostel, in Peshawar, Pakistan

THE long-running tussle over control of Edwardes College, a higher-education institution in Pakistan, took a new turn this month, when a high court ruled against the Bishop of Peshawar, the Most Revd Humphrey Peters.

On Tuesday of last week, the Peshawar High Court turned down a plea by the Bishop — who is also the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan — to declare the college a private entity. It ruled that the college was a nationalised educational institution governed by a board of governors formed by the provincial government, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.

In doing so, the court found in favour of both staff members at the college, and the provincial government. A petition filed by several college faculty members, including the Vice-Principal, Shakil Ahmad Nisar, argued that all privately managed schools and colleges had been taken over by the government in 1972. The provincial government recalled a 2006 judgment, which had declared Edwardes College a private educational institution.

In May, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the High Court had “blocked the local government’s attempts to interfere in college affairs”, stating that Edwardes had been “under threat from a takeover for many years after the Peshawar governor set up a Board of Governors for the College without any legal backing” (News, 24 May 2019).

Edwardes College was founded in 1900 by the Church Missionary Society and transferred to the Lahore Diocesan Trust Association in 1956. Tensions between the government and the diocese are long-standing, and have been documented by a former Principal, Dr Robin Brooke-Smith (Books, 11 October 2013).

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