LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday vowed to ensure uniform fee structure for all medical and dental institutions in the country, and quality education to produce competent medical practitioners.
Hearing a suo motu notice against the excessive fee structure of private medical colleges, the chief justice observed that the court would not allow institutions to rip off students. The chief justice heads the three-judge bench hearing the case; the other two members are Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
CJ Nisar pointed out that a senior doctor had once told him that Pakistan’s medical institutions were producing doctors who did not even know how to check a patient’s blood pressure.
“What we are going to give our posterity?” he asked representatives of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and other officials of the health sector.
The chief justice accepted a suggestion by the court’s amicus curiae Advocate Ayesha Hamid, and ordered an audit of all private medical and dental colleges by the chartered accountancy firm, AF Ferguson, to examine if the fee charged by these institutions matched their expenditures.
Justice Nisar has college vice principal arrested; orders audit of all institutions
SURPRISE VISIT: The chief justice paid a surprise visit to two public hospitals in Lahore to examine the facilities available to patients.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali accompanied him.
They first visited the emergency departments and various wards of the Services Hospital and later went to the adjacent Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC).
During the visit, Chief Justice Nisar promised a female patient financial assistance and directed the authorities at the Services Hospital to provide her free-of-charge treatment.
He also visited the Pak-Red Crescent Medical and Dental College in the Dina Nath area of Kasur, some 50km from here, where he observed that the college had been charging students two to three million rupees as fee, and ordered the college administration to return the extra fees collected within a week. He also promised to conduct such visits across the country.
Following the CJP’s orders, FIA officials arrested the vice principal of the college, as well as Dr Muhammad Shaukat, the official in charge of the accounts office, and seized the records.
The students of the college told the CJP that the college administration had already taken close to a million rupees from them for miscellaneous charges and was now forcing them to deposit more money.
AITZAZ’S REMARKS: The CJP took exception to some remarks made by PPP’s outgoing senator Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan regarding the judiciary’s functioning beyond constitutional limits, and advised him to speak his mind about the state institution in court.
In his farewell speech in the Senate on Thursday, Mr Ahsan had endorsed criticism of the judiciary and the army by Farhatullah Babar, another outgoing senator.
“I cent per cent agree with Farhatullah Babar that judiciary should remain within its domain and the army should not indulge in adventurism,” Mr Ahsan had said.
He was supposed to appear before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in a case regarding infant formula milk on behalf of the association of the manufacturers. However, his associate Barrister Gohar told the bench that Mr Ahsan was not available as he was attending a farewell ceremony for outgoing senators in Islamabad. “He is not available before Monday,” he said when the chief justice directed Mr Ahsan to appear on Saturday (today).
The chief justice asked Barrister Gohar to start his arguments but the latter said he (Mr Ahsan) would argue the case himself.
Irked by the conduct of the counsel, CJ Nisar asked: “Are you trying to scare us with the name of Aitzaz Ahsan... He is our elder but you cannot enjoy any leverage for being associated with a big law firm.”
“We know Mr Ahsan would certainly say in his arguments that the court is going beyond its jurisdiction,” the chief justice said, while referring to the bench’s intention to pass an order for formula milk manufacturers to put a label on their products that says: “It is not natural milk, neither a substitute of mother’s milk.”
BABA REHMATA: CJ Nisar on Friday explained that the term ‘Baba’ he had used earlier for the judiciary was a reference from the literary works of intellectual Ashfaq Ahmad.
“The concept of Baba is not mine. I actually derived it from famous writer Ashfaq Ahmad,” the chief justice disclosed.
Once when late Ashfaq Ahmad was asked what the character of Baba signified, Mr Ahmad had replied: “Baba is one who creates facilities for people.”
Referring to the role of the judiciary, the chief justice said: “So we are here to facilitate the people without paying attention to criticism.
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2018