SC reconstitutes PMDC, sets aside IHC orderArchive
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered reconstitution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) with retired Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan to act as its president, directing him to appoint a new registrar in consultation with other members at the earliest.
Besides the former SC judge, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan or his nominee, the federal health secretary, the surgeon general of the armed forces, vice chancellors of the National University of Medical Sciences, the University of Health Sciences, Lahore, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, Karachi, Khyber Medical University, Peshawar, Bolan University of Medical and Health Sciences, Quetta, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad, and the principal of De’Montmorency College of Dentistry, Lahore, will be members of the reconstituted PMDC.
A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, directed the AG office to intimate with prior approval of the new president the date of its first meeting to all concerned and asked the PMDC president to appoint its new registrar in consultation with the council.
The SC asked the former PMDC registrar, retired Brigadier Dr Hafizuddin Ahmed Siddiqui, to hand over all existing record of the council to a representative of the health secretary. The secretary was directed to provide full assistance in convening and holding of meetings of the council.
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According to the court order, all PMDC functionaries who may be in possession/custody of any record of the council will also hand over all records to authorised representatives of the ministry concerned.
The order came on an appeal filed by National Health Services Secretary Tanveer Ahmed Qureshi against the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judgement of April 7 that directed the federal government to allow Brig Siddiqui to assume PMDC control.
During the SC hearing, the AG argued that the IHC order was passed despite a pending application of the federation pointing out that Brig Siddiqui could not be treated as the incumbent registrar due to the repeal of the law under which the appointment had been made unless specifically saved by any provision of subsequent legislation.
The AG said that by issuing the directive to the federal government to allow the former PMDC registrar appointed under the repealed PMDC Ordinance, 2019 to assume the office, the IHC acted illegally without jurisdiction and in contravention of an unambiguous and unequivocal judgement passed in 2018.
When the SC confronted Advocate Hafiz Arfat Ahmed Chaudhry, the counsel for former registrar Brig Siddiqui, about how he could claim to be the registrar when the law under which he had been appointed stood repealed, the counsel conceded that there was no legal basis for such claim. But he contended that in line with the earlier order of the apex court, he would approach the council for redressal of his grievance, if any, and that he would not press his contempt petition presently pending before the IHC.
In view of such conceding statement of the counsel for Brig Siddiqui, who was also present in the court, the bench observed that the court did not feel the necessity to proceed further in the matter.
The bench then converted the criminal petition into appeal and set aside the April 7 IHC order as a result of which a contempt petition pending before the IHC also stand dismissed.
The bench noted that the ad hoc council previously constituted on the Supreme Court direction with Mian Shakirullah Jan as its president had ceased to exist after the promulgation of PMDC Ordinance, 2019.
The AG also argued that on account of afflux of time various changes had occurred and subsequent events had overtaken the situation which need to be considered by the SC in the interest of better and effective working of the Pakistan Medical Commission, constituted under the ordinance of 2019.
Contending that the PMDC is the main regulator of the medical profession and medical education, the AG said it was imperative that it should run effectively efficiently and smoothly.
Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2020