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LAHORE: Giving a message to his detractors in political circles, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday stated that he would continue to visit public hospitals in order to protect citizens’ fundamental right to basic health facilities.

He said this during the hearing of a suo motu case regarding excessive fees charged by private medical and dental colleges. The two-judge bench of the Lahore registry hearing the case includes the chief justice and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

During the hearing on Saturday, the chief justice observed that the court had to take suo motu notices when the government and its relevant departments failed to deliver.

Son of top SC judge pays fine imposed on Aitzaz

Earlier, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar appeared on behalf of the Pakistan Association of Private Medical Institutions (PAMI) and stated that the Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the audit of colleges could not be finalised as AF Ferguson, the chartered accountancy firm selected to conduct the audit, had cited a conflict of interest and refused to become a part of the exercise.

CJP Nisar noted that the firm should have informed the court of a conflict of interest at the previous hearing, in which a representative of the firm had expressed willingness to conduct the audit. The CJP sought personal appearance of a senior official of the accountancy firm at the next hearing.

Recalling directions iss­ued in the case of Pak-Red Crescent Medical and Den­tal College in Phoolnagar, the CJP directed all private medical and dental colleges of the country, except Aga Khan University Karachi, to refund, within a month, fees collected over and above Rs850,000, excluding hostel and transportation charges. The dues received by the University of Health Sciences and the PMDC would not be refunded.

Barrister Zafar told the chief justice that the FIA had started inquiries against all private colleges, taking undue advantage of the court’s action against the college in Phoolnagar.

Dr Asim Hussain submitted recommendations seeking improvement in the medical education sector. He was sharing his views on the fee refund when CJP Nisar said there had been complaints regarding affiliation granted to private colleges during Dr Hussain’s tenure as president of the PMDC.

“If I start recovery myself, you will also have to pay Rs4bn,” the chief justice told him, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the FIA to look into affiliation granted to private medical/dental colleges during Dr Hussain’s tenure as president of the PMDC.

Separately, Chief Justice Nisar told Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan that his son had paid a fine imposed on Mr Ahsan at an earlier hearing for not appearing in a case pertaining to infant formula milk. Mr Ahsan had protested against the imposition of the fine and refused to pay it.

“My son Najam paid the fine on behalf of his uncle,” the chief justice told Mr Ahsan, while showing him a receipt of the amount deposited to Fatmid Foundation. In response, Mr Ahsan smiled.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2018