Top court reconstitutes PMDC on govt’s request

Regulatory body of medical profession to be run by 11-member ad-hoc committee


Hasnaat Malik April 17, 2020
PHOTO: AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has reconstituted the regulatory body of medical profession – the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) – and formed and 11-member ad-hoc committee to look after its affairs. The committee is headed by a former SC judge Ejaz Afzal Khan.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, passed the order on Friday while hearing a petition filed by the federal government, seeking removal of the PMDC registrar.

The committee will include the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) or his nominee, federal secretary health, the Pakistan Armed Forces surgeon general and De’Montmorency College of Dentistry principal
Vice chancellors (VCs) of the National University of Medical Sciences, University of Health Sciences, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, Khyber Medical University, Bolan University of Medical and Health Sciences and Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University will also be part of the committee.

The PTI led federal government on Oct 19, 2019 dissolved the PMDC through a presidential ordinance that replaced the authority with a new body, the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC).

Later, the Ministry of National Health Services also terminated services of most of the PMDC employees and sealed its building.

The sacked employees later moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which on February 11 declared the presidential ordinance null and void and restored PMDC along with the services of its employees.

The government filed an appeal against the IHC decision but a division bench did not accept its request to stay the February 11 order.

The PMDC employees also filed a contempt petition against the government in the IHC, which on March 30, ordered the government to open the PMDC building. In the wake of the IHC order, the ministry issued order for de-sealing of the building but did not allow the registrar and employees to enter it.

The ministry on April 2 filed an application in the IHC that claimed that appointment of the PMDC registrar was illegal and that he should be removed. The court rejected the request.

The registrar, Brig (retd) Dr Hafizuddin Ahmed Siddiqui, also filed an application in the IHC that said even after a decision on the contempt application, the government had not implemented the court decision.

The ministry finally agreed to de-seal the PMDC building on April 7, but appealed to the SC against the IHC's refusal to remove the council's registrar.

The SC bench on Friday allowed the government’s plea against the IHC order, allowing Siddiqui to assume control of the PMDC as registrar and taking immediate steps for compliance on a contempt petition filed by him.

AGP Khalid Javed Khan told the bench that while directing the federal government to allow the former PMDC registrar appointed under the repealed PMDC Ordinance, 2019 to assume the control of office, the IHC had acted illegally without jurisdiction and in contravention of an SC judgment.

He said the appointments made under an ordinance do not survive after repeal of the ordinance unless specifically saved by any provision of subsequent legislation.

“Therefore, while restoring Dr Siddiqui in contempt proceedings, the IHC not only exceeded its jurisdiction but omitted to follow the principle of law settled by the SC,” he said.

The written order said council shall meet as soon as possible.

“The president [of council] shall in consultation with the council appoint a registrar. All existing record of PMDC shall be handed over to the authorized representative of Secretary Health by Respondent No.1.

“The said secretary shall provide full assistance in convening and holding of meetings of the council. All functionaries of PMDC who may be in possession/custody of any record shall also handover all relevant records to authorized representatives of the concerned Ministry or a person nominated by the chairman of the commission,” the order added.

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