Following IHC order, PMDC building de-sealed

Updated March 31, 2020

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The health ministry has also written a letter to the IHC in which it says that the council’s building had been de-sealed. — Dawn/File
The health ministry has also written a letter to the IHC in which it says that the council’s building had been de-sealed. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Complying with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) orders, the Ministry of National Health Services de-sealed the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) building on Monday and allowed the registrar to take up his office.

The ministry permitted PMDC Registrar retired Brigadier Hafizuddin Siddiqui to enter his office and asked him to visit the ministry today (Tuesday) to finalise modalities for the future functioning of the council.

The ministry has also written a letter to the IHC in which it says that the council’s building had been de-sealed.

The PMDC was dissolved by a presidential ordinance promulgated on Oct 19, 2019, which paved the way for the establishment of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC). On Oct 20, the NHS ministry sealed the PMDC building and announced that the services of its 220 employees had been terminated and only class four employees would be retained. Later PMC was established and the building was made functional.

Registrar allowed to visit his office, called by NHS ministry on Tuesday to work out modalities

However on Feb 11, IHC declared the presidential ordinance ‘null and void’ and restored PMDC along with the services of the sacked employees. Rather than implementing the decision, the health ministry once again sealed the building and stopped employees from entering. Later the government filed an appeal against the decision of the IHC in the division bench but could not succeed to get the decision suspended or obtain stay order. On the other hand employees filed contempt petition in the IHC.

On Monday, a bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, while hearing the contempt plea, gave an hour to the government to open the PMDC,and warned of sending officials concerned behind the bars.

After the decision the employees gathered outside the PMDC building but were not allowed to enter.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Siddiqui said the court had given strict orders due to which the ministry had called him.

“At around 4pm Joint Secretary Saeedullah Khan Niazi asked me to visit the council office but said there was no need to allow employees into the office as the office timing had passed. So I went there and visited the building but I was told that on Tuesday (today) I should again visit the ministry to finalise the modalities and about the number of employees who should be allowed to enter the building. I believe at least 50 to 60 employees would be required to make the council functional,” he said.

Replying to a question, Mr Siddiqui said he was informed that the inventory of record and stock was ready but he would make a board of officers or a committee to physically check everything before signing the document of handing-over and taking-over.

“As former judge of Supreme Court Justice Shakirullah Jan, according to the court order, has to work as a president of the council so I will write to him (Justice Shakirullah Jan) to join the office after making the council functional,” he said.

Meanwhile an employee of the council, requesting not to be quoted, said that employees also tried to enter the PMDC building along with the registrar but the guards did not allow them.

On Monday, the NHS ministry wrote a letter to the IHC registrar, informing him that the orders of the court had been implemented.

The letter, signed by Joint Secretary Saeedullah Khan Niazi and available with Dawn, states that the additional attorney general had informed the NHS ministry secretary via telephone that the IHC had directed the office of the PMDC registrar may be de-sealed forthwith and registrar may be given access to his office.

“In obedience to the IHC orders dated 30th March, the office of the registrar PMDC is hereby opened with immediate effect. You are requested to appraise thy Lordship, IHC that the orders passed dated March 30 have been complied with,” it states.

On the other hand,Media Coordinator, NHS ministry, Sajid Shah said that the PMDC registrar had been called on Tuesday in light of the orders of the court.

Earlier, the court resumed hearing of the contempt petition. The judge noticed that neither the NHS secretary nor the additional secretary werepresent in the courtroom.

Advocate Abdul Rahim Bhatti, the counsel for the petitioners, informed the court that the government was reluctant to implement the court’s order. He said the NHS ministry had established a desk to enroll fresh doctors which was against the law.

Justice Kiyani expressed his displeasure and warned that the NHS secretary may be sent to jail for a term of six months for flouting the court orders. He also stopped the ministry from enrolling the doctors.

He adjourned the matter for an hour, and asked the NHS joint secretary, Saeedullah Khan Niazi,to implement the court orders. The joint secretary health offered the registrar to assume charge of PMDC.

However, when the court resumed the hearing again, the registrar informed the court that the ministry has offered him to assume charge of his office alone and did not allow the staff to rejoin.

Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar informed the court that because of coronavirus the government had adopted social distancing policy. He said that due to this fact, the ministry had asked only the registrar to sit in his office.

Registrar Siddiqui on the other hand was insisting for implementation of the IHC judgement that restored the PMDC and reinstated its dismissed employees.

The court then adjourned the hearing till the second week of April with the direction of handing over the charge of PMDC to Mr Siddiqui.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020