LAHORE: A Lahore High Court division bench has set aside a decision of a single bench and restored admission regulations-2019 by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), now defunct.

“No case is made out against the PMDC that they could not amend the 2018 regulations,” said a nine-page verdict authored by Justice Ayesha A Malik, who headed the bench with Justice Jawad Hassan.

A single bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti had on Oct 14 set aside the 2019 regulations and ordered the admissions to be made under the previous regulations of 2018.

Several dual national students had challenged the new regulations for being unconstitutional and contrary to their fundamental rights.

However, the PMDC challenged the decision through an intra court appeal which the division bench allowed.

The students had pleaded that they passed O&A level examinations in Pakistan, however, later acquired dual nationality of different countries. They said the previous regulation gave due weight to performance of students in O&A levels or in regular national scheme of the secondary school and higher secondary education.

The students had a view that they acquired a vested right to seek admission under the 2018 regulations since they, at the time of taking their A level examination in May, 2019, had already decided that they were to participate in the admission process for medical/dental colleges and the sudden change to the admission criteria brought through the amendments prejudiced their rights as they were put to a disadvantage. They also questioned the powers of the council to amend the regulations.

However, the two-judge bench in the verdict issued on Friday observed that the new council had the power to alter, repeal or modify existing regulations.

It also observed that the petitioners/students were in fact not entitled to any foreign seat quota under the 2018 regulations as they were admittedly students who studied for their O & A levels in Pakistan and for the purposes of their secondary school education and 12th grade examination, they did not reside abroad as per the required criteria.

It further noted that the amendments were publicised and posted on the website of the PMDC in June 2019 and was available in the booklet information made available to students prior to taking the MDCAT examination. And the petitioners/students took the examination and after getting their results filed the petitions in September 2019.

“Hence the contention that the amendments came as surprise to them is totally without basis,” said the ruling which allowed the council’s appeal, set aside the impugned judgment by the single bench and restored the 2018 regulations to their original form as amended in 2019.

The bench had already stayed the single bench’s decision on Oct 21.

Advocate Mian Aslam, counsel for one of the students, announced challenging the division bench’s verdict before the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2019