IHC reserves judgement on PMDC dissolution through ordinance

Updated January 09, 2020

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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved its judgement on identical petitions filed against the dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) by a presidential ordinance. — AFP/File
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved its judgement on identical petitions filed against the dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) by a presidential ordinance. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved its judgement on identical petitions filed against the dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) by a presidential ordinance.

IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani reserved the decision after Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar concluded his arguments.

The court earlier heard from the petitioners and respondents such as the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) – which replaced the PMDC – the Ministry of National Health Services, the Ministry of Law and the College of Physician and Surgeon of Pakistan (CPSP).

CPSP’s counsel Raja Saimul Haq Satti told the court that the CPSP supports the position taken by the NHS ministry, which said in a written response to the petitions that the presidential ordinance dissolving the PMDC was promulgated in the greater interest of stakeholders and provided for the restructuring and reorganisation of the regulatory body pertaining to and dealing with regulations and control of the medical profession.

Mr Khokhar gave a historical perspective on the presidential ordinance and said that in 1610, they were known as prerogative proclamations in the United Kingdom, but the practice was discontinued after a few decades.

However, he said, legislation for the subcontinent empowered the British to issue ordinances in the acts of 1861 and 1935. The Indian constitution also empowered the president to issue ordinances, as did the 1956 and 1962 Pakistani constitutions and the Constitution of 1973.

The 1956, 1962 constitutions and Constitution of 1973 empowered president to issue ordinances, additional attorney general says

He said that the president, on the advice of the federal cabinet and the prime minister, issued the ordinance to establish the PMC and repeal the PMDC Ordinance.

The ordinance has also been passed by the National Assembly in the form of a bill, and is being referred to the Senate.

According to Mr Khokhar, the court cannot pass an order against the ordinance as it is pending legislation.

Babar Sattar, one of the counsel for the petitioners in the case, argued that this was a matter of the basic rights of the erstwhile PMDC and the IHC has all the power to examine the presidential ordinance.

On Dec 5, the PMC in compliance with court orders produced the details of six months’ salaries disbursed among sacked PMDC employees, which showed that the PMDC was paying a total of Rs34 million to its 222 employees in monthly salaries.

The PMC had informed the court that Rs46.1 million was outstanding against 37 sacked PMDC employees, drawn in home, car financing and miscellaneous loans.

The petitions contended that although an act of parliament was empowered to dissolve the PMDC, the president, vice president and executive committee of the council would stay intact until the appointment of a new council following elections that have to be held within a year.

In addition, the government was authorised to appoint an official not below grade 20 as an administrator to head the executive committee. The administrator and the executive committee were to exercise powers of the council until the constitution of a new council, the petitions said.

They said the Supreme Court set criteria for the promulgation of ordinances in 2018 which have not been followed in this case.

The petitions said that PMDC employees were terminated without an opportunity for hearing. They expressed apprehensions that the newly formed PMC may hire new employees on sanctioned and contractual posts through other modes after issuing advertisements, which would jeopardise the vested rights to serve previous PMDC employees.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020