Supreme Court upholds LHC decision to disband PMDC

Also forms a committee led by retired SC judge Shakirullah Jan to oversee working of the health body

Hasnaat Mailk January 12, 2018
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE PHOTO

ISLAMABAD: Upholding the Lahore High Court (LHC) judgment to dissolve the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), the top court has constituted an ad hoc council to run affairs of the regulator of medical education.

After its continuous hearing, the Supreme Court’s three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, on Friday dismissed the PMDC’s petition against the LHC judgment. The reasons of the order will be issued later.

“The PMDC constituted under the law and any executive committee constituted by or under the law and presently working are dissolved and till the appointment/election of the fresh council,” said the order.

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The bench has also constituted an ad-hoc council to run affairs of the PMDC in accordance with the relevant law. The council shall be chaired by the SC’s retired judge Mian Shakirullah Jan and include Attorney General for Pakistan or in case of his non-availability, his nominee or representative.

Other members of the ad-hoc committee include the federal secretary health, surgeon general of armed forces as well as vice chancellors of the National University of Medical Sciences, Lahore’s University of Health Sciences, Karachi’s Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, Peshawar’s Khyber Medical University and the principal of Quetta’s Bolan Medical College.

The council will take over and run the affairs of the PMDC immediately and its first meeting shall be convened on January 18. The present registrar of the PMDC shall, however, continue to work.

Earlier, the LHC allowed the incumbent body to continue for three months. The high court restored 2013 regulations, enabling the private medical colleges to conduct admissions independently, with directives to the federal government to hold fresh elections of the PMDC within three months. However, the court allowed the present council to carry out day-to-day affairs until lawful composition of a new council.

Later, the PMDC through its lawyer Akram Sheikh challenged the LHC’s December 7 judgment.

Ali Zafar, representing private medical and dental colleges through the Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI), said the present PMDC was illegal and functioning unlawfully because it was created under PMDC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 which lapsed on April 25, 2016.

Describing the history of laws governing the medical profession, Barrister Zafar said under the PMDC Ordinance, 1962 a council was first created which had, amongst its members, eminent people from all walks of life and included one member each from every medical and dental college and university.

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“But this provision led to a regulatory capture because as the number of private colleges increased, their members became the majority in the council of PMDC,” he said.

Zafar argued that to rectify the situation, the parliament passed an Amendment Act in 2012, under which the private medical and dental colleges of each province were to select only one member amongst themselves, but even this was not acceptable to the government.

The government, through an ordinance in the year 2015, dissolved this council and constituted a new council of its own liking without any representation from the private medical and dental colleges.

According to Zafar, when this ordinance lapsed and the matter was put up before the Senate of Pakistan, they refused to make this ordinance a law and sent it to the Council of Common Interest (CCI).

Relying on various judgments of the Supreme Court, Zafar then submitted that when an ordinance lapses under Article 89 read with Article 264 of the Constitution, then being a temporary legislation, a body created under it also ceases to exist.

Consequently, the current members of PMDC are all working illegally and should be stopped, he added.

He said the ordinance of 2015 was passed without approval of the cabinet or the CCI and hence the regulations and policies framed by the PMDC were also illegal on this score.

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