KARACHI: Confusion regarding the issue of fresh entry test for hundreds of students in the province for admissions to the public sector medical colleges and universities is not yet over as the Sindh High Court (SHC) has deferred the matter till December 15.
In the hearing on Tuesday, the SHC suspended the Sindh government’s notification directing the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) to conduct fresh entry tests after the earlier test conducted by the National Testing Services (NTS) was annulled due to the paper leak controversy. The court further ordered that fresh date for the test will not be announced until December 15.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, issued these directives while hearing a petition filed by Haziq Khursheed and a non-governmental organisation, Pasban-e-Pakistan. The matter will now be taken up again on December 15.
The bench also directed the provincial advocate-general to file comments on behalf of the Sindh government besides issuing notices to the chairpersons of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and NTS to file their comments.
The petitioners had moved the high court against the recent decision of the Sindh government to cancel the admissions test conducted by the NTS for medical colleges and universities.
While hearing the same petition last week, another bench had restrained the National Testing Service from announcing fresh date for the entry tests till further orders.
In their plea, the petitioners had maintained that 22,000 candidates had appeared for the entry tests which were conducted at five different centres on October 21. Of these, a total of 2,100 students had cleared the tests, the petitioners had said, adding that after the announcement of results, rumours circulated on social media regarding an alleged leak of the NTS paper a day before the test.
Following the controversy, the chief minister had constituted a five-member inquiry commission and on its recommendation, the provincial government annulled the results of the entry test. The government also directed the DUHS administration to hold the test afresh within 15 days.
The petitioners informed the court that the rumour of paper leak was the reason the NTS test results were cancelled. They alleged that the health department favoured the candidates who had failed the test by forming a committee to probe the alleged leak. The health department did not have any legal authority to form such committee, the petitioners maintained.
Advocate Farah, the lawyer representing a petitioner, argued that the notification issued by the health secretary to cancel the test was illegal as he had no power to issue such orders. She alleged that the controversy was a scam and the campaign was launched with a political backing to render an independent testing process redundant which does not allow political elements to interfere.
The court was pleaded to nullify the notification issued by the health department and order that the petitioner and others who had passed the test were entitled to admission.
The court was also requested to issue a restraining order against any fresh entry tests for public medical colleges and universities in the year 2017-18. The petitioners also pleaded to the bench to direct the government to develop a standardised system for admissions to public medical colleges and universities.