The Sindh High Court sought on Monday a comparison between the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases' (NICVD) budget with the funds of other district hospitals.
Hearing a petition filed by Dr Tariq Shaikh, who brought forth corruption allegations against the NICVD and was dismissed from service, a two-member bench comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar and Justice Adnanul Karim Memon summoned the provincial health and finance secretaries at the next hearing.
The bench inquired as to how private practice was allowed at the hospital.
The counsel for NICVD's executive director advocate Ayan Memon said the Sindh government had given permission under a law, which directs that 70 per cent of the private practice income go to the doctors and 30 per cent to the hospital.
Justice Panhwar asked who Haider Awan was and the NICVD administration's counsel said Awan was a former employee and his contract had expired.
Addressing the NICVD's counsel Raza Rabbani, the court remarked: "You are a lawyer as well as a legislator. Tell us what kind of law has been made. Can private practice be allowed in a government hospital?"
During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioner argued that the Sindh government had given Rs40 billion to the hospital in the last five years to purchase equipment and pay salaries.
"We have the highest number of surgeries," said NICVD director Dr Nadeem Qamar.
At this, the bench cited the example of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation's (SIUT) Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi and said that people give money when they know work is being done with honesty. The bench asked Dr Qamar if anyone had ever donated one or half a billion to his facility.
The court adjourned the hearing till October 14.
Another two-member bench comprising Justice Nadeem Akhtar and Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro directed the counsels to prepare arguments in view of the Supreme Court's orders on the bail pleas of the accused in the assets beyond means corruption reference against Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.
Durrani's counsel argued that the apex court in its decision had observed that further inquiry was needed on the matter. "The National Accountability Bureau indicted 19 others but did not ask for the details of their income. It was said that Durrani had bought benami properties in the names of others," contended the counsel.
The bench expressed annoyance at this and remarked that the counsel should restrict his arguments to the defence of his own client.
The defence counsel stated that the properties in question were declared and tax returns of all the properties were available.
Directing the counsels to prepare arguments in light of the Supreme Court's order, the bench adjourned the hearing till September 21 (today).
Meanwhile, another two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Shamsuddin Abbasi rejected petitioner Mansoor Rajput's request to remove his name from the Rs5.67b graft reference against the Sindh information department.
According to the national anti-graft watchdog, Rajput caused a loss of over Rs147m to the national exchequer by exempting a private company from paying sales tax.
The defence counsel argued that the NAB had failed to produce evidence against his client.
After hearing the arguments, the bench rejected Rajput's plea.
Former Sindh minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and others are accused in the bureau's graft reference against the provincial information department.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2021.
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