ISLAMABAD: The controversy over the appointment of the new chairman of Shaikh Zayed Post Graduate Medical Institute (SZPGMI) took a new turn when the Cabinet division sought on Wednesday legal advice from the ministry of law and justice on the issue, The Express Tribune has learnt.
“The Lahore High Court directed Cabinet division secretary Abdur Rauf Chaudhry on August 31 to seek permission from the prime minster to appoint the new chairman of the SZPGMI by September 12,” Joint Secretary Syed Fayyaz Hussain said in a letter sent to the law division.
“The cabinet division was confused and does not know how to implement the court’s order because one bench of the LHC set a deadline for the appointment of the chairman while another bench of the same court, on another application, is hearing the case by October 12,” said Hussain. The notices, in this regard, have been issued to the quarters concerned, he told The Express Tribune.
“Therefore, we sought legal advice from the law division to avoid any untoward situation (contempt of court),” he added.
Earlier, a three-member bench of the LHC, on a plea by Professor Muhammad Saeed, Head of the Gynecology Department SZPGMI, gave the same directions on May 6, saying that the selection process of the appointments should be fair and advertised in the print media.
Dr Saeed, who also served as chairman and dean and was later removed from his office under political pressure, said that there are various senior doctors at the institute who can produce better results accordingly.
“I am the most senior doctor at SZPGMI and it is my right to serve as chairman because the incumbent chairman, Dr Anwar, is seven years junior to me,” Dr Saeed lamented while talking to The Express Tribune.
He also filed a petition challenging the advertisement issued by the cabinet division. Later, the court gave a verdict regarding the early appointment of the new chairman on merit.
The incumbent dean and chairman of the institute, Dr Anwar Ahmad Khan, who has been serving at this post for the past eight years, violated the criteria set by the cabinet division itself allowing him (Anwar) to serve for more than three years as chairman, he added.Dr Khan, when contacted, refused to talk to The Express Tribune saying: “No comment.”
Meanwhile, Director General Health, Doctor Rashid Juma was of the view that the appointment of the new chairman has become an issue. Reportedly, the ball is in Gilani’s court, he stated.
“Although the hospital does not fall under the federal health ministry, the issue can still be taken up with the ministry to solve the problem for an early solution,” he explained.
Meanwhile, a senior official of the cabinet division confided to The Express Tribune that Dr Khan approached the prime minister for an extension on his tenure which ends in January next year. The prime minister, however, will issue directions in this regard soon, he said.
The LHC issued a contempt of court notice to then cabinet division secretary Masood Alam Rizvi years back for not following the court order pertaining to the appointment of the new chief of SZPGMI. Rizvi promised to fulfill the court order within weeks after the completion of the appointment process. The controversy, however, has not abated.
The LHC, in this regard, in an intra-court appeal, gave its judgment, saying that the interim sitting chairman cannot sit on the seat after September 5.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2010.
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