PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday issued notices to the federal secretaries for the ministries of national health services and law seeking their response about a petition against the recent dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council and abrupt end to the employment of its staff members through a presidential ordinance.

Justice Qaiser Rasheed and Justice Nasir Mehfooz fixed Nov 14 for the next hearing into the petition filed by an employee of the dissolved PMDC, Faridullah Khan, who requested the court to declare the Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance, 2019, unconstitutional.

The petitioner also requested the court to declare unconstitutional the cessation of his employment and Section 49 of the Ordinance through which the services of PMDC employees were terminated, and to order the government to restore his services with all due benefits.

After preliminary hearing, the bench issued notices to the respondents, including the federation of Pakistan through national health services and federal law secretaries asking them to respond to the petition on the next hearing, whose schedule will be announced later.

Federal secretaries told to respond to petition

Deputy attorney general Ahmad Saleem accepted notice on behalf of the federal government.

President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the impugned Pakistan Medical Commission Ordinance last month paving the way for the dissolution of the PMDC and establishment of the PMC in its place.

The ordinance has already been challenged in the Lahore High Court and Islamabad High Court by different petitioners.

Fazle Wahid Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, said under the terms and conditions of services, all employees appointed under the PMDC Ordinance had statutory right to continue his employment until superannuation.

He said from time to time, changes were made to the PMDC Ordinance and that in 2012, the PMDC (Amendment) Act was enacted making several changes to the ordinance, including regarding the composition of the council.

The lawyer said further amendments were made through ordinances promulgated in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He said the Supreme Court had declared the council constituted under the 2015 ordinance illegal and formed an ad hoc council ordering the holding of fresh elections in accordance with the law.

The lawyer, however, said the government promulgated an ordinance early in 2019 in contravention of that judgment and that was disapproved by the Senate on Aug 29.

He said after the disapproval of the ordinance, the president promulgated the impugned PMC Ordinance, 2019, on Oct 19 without the cabinet’s prior approval repealing Section 50 of the PMDC Ordinance, 1962, and dissolving the PMDC.

The lawyer said the matters relating to medical profession and education were delegated to the PMC, which consisted of the Medical and Dental Council, the National Medical and Dental Academics Board, and the National Medical Authority.

He said the ordinance was the reproduction of previous ordinances and was meant to favour blue-eyed persons.

The lawyer said the Supreme Court had declared in 2018 that re-promulgation of ordinances, especially when earlier ones were either not approved or disapproved by parliament, was a fraud on the constitution and a subversion of democratic legislative process.

He said Section 49 of the Ordinance was in conflict with Article 8 of the Constitution as the same had allowed the government to terminate regular services of the PMDC employees.

The lawyer said the PMDC offices were sealed without any plausible reason.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2019