MUZAFFARABAD, Jan 20: The AJK High Court here on Friday admitted for regular hearing a petition filed by five girl students, challenging the govt’s decision to give admissions in the region’s two nascent medical colleges through quota system.

The petition was filed on January 13 and after preliminary hearing, Chief Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mughal constituted a division bench, comprising besides him, Justice M Tabassum Aftab Alvi to hear and decide the case speedily.

While giving his arguments, Raza Ali Khan, counsel for the petitioners, recalled that the government had initially announced that all admissions against 150 seats for AJK nationals would be given on open merit and the same policy was mentioned in the December 25 advertisements seeking applications from the eligible students.

However, the government had gone back on its announcements in what was a blatant infringement of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) regulations and could risk the recognition of the degrees of both colleges, he said.

Mr Khan also referred to a Supreme Court of Pakistan judgment of 2001 whereby the apex court had abolished quota system and instead directed that all seats in medical colleges, barring a limited number, should be filled on open merit.

He also pointed out that while the principle of parity with the Punjab was being followed in almost every official matter in AJK, the same was being overlooked in admissions in medical colleges.

In Punjab, admissions against 2889 out of 3205 seats in medical and dental colleges are made on open merit and only 316 seats are reserved for physically challenged persons or underdeveloped areas which are less than 10 per cent, he said.

Due to quota system in nominations for different medical colleges in Pakistan through the AJK Nomination Board, a candidate with 63 per cent marks would get admission as against the one with 82 per cent marks, Mr Khan said.

He further pointed out that the two medical colleges were constituent part of AJK University Muzaffarabad and Mirpur University of Science and Technology which had a policy of filling 75 per cent seats on open merit.

The counsel for the government, Raja Hanif Khan, defended the enforcement of quota system saying it was in vogue in government jobs as well. Abolition of district-wise quota in admissions would deprive the under-developed areas of their rights, he said.

During the arguments by the government’s counsel, Fatima Abdullah, one of the petitioners, stood up in the courtroom and challenged his contentions regarding the merit list.

Mr Hanif said he would file his objections to the petitions on Saturday. On this, the bench adjourned the hearing until Monday.

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