Govt declares PMDC registrar’s appointment unlawful

Updated 02 Apr 2020

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IHC told appointment made under ‘outdated’ law. — Facebook/File
IHC told appointment made under ‘outdated’ law. — Facebook/File

ISLAMABAD: In a major twist in the recent confrontation between the federal government and the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, the former has declared ‘unlawful’ the appointment of retired Brigadier Hafizuddin Siddiqui as PMDC registrar.

The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on Wednesday filed in the Islamabad High Court an application along with documentary evidence stating that the appointment of Brig Siddiqui was made under an ‘outdated’ law. The application was filed through Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar.

The development is taking place at a time when medical professionals are at the frontline in the fight against coronavirus whereas the status of their regulator hangs in the balance.

President Dr Arif Alvi had on Oct 19 last year promulgated an ordinance which left the PMDC dissolved and paved the way for establishment of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC).

Subsequently, the NHS ministry took over the building of the PMDC and informed its 220 employees that their services had been terminated. The building was then handed over to the PMC which comprised three components — the Medical and Dental Council, National Medical and Dental Academic Board and National Medical Authority which had to act as secretariat of the commission.

IHC told appointment made under ‘outdated’ law

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the IHC had in February this year annulled the presidential ordinance, restored the PMDC and reinstated all its employees.

The federal government had on March 30 unsealed the PMDC premises and handed it over to its registrar. The move came on the directive of the IHC as PMDC registrar Brig Siddiqui and other employees the council filed a petition seeking contempt of court proceeding against the NHS secretary and other authorities.

The application filed by NHS Secretary Dr Tanvir Qureshi in the IHC stated that pursuant to the court orders, the PMDC building was unsealed and the registrar was allowed to assume his office. The secretary, however, ‘disowned’ the appointment of PMDC registrar, saying that it was made under a repealed law.

According to the notification of Mr Siddiqui’s appointment annexed with the application, he was appointed “registrar PMDC as per the provisions of PM&DC Ordinance II of 2019”. It said the ordinance was published on Jan 9, 2019. On July 17, 2019, the petitioner No. 1 was appointed as PMDC registrar under the same law.

The application said the ordinance stood repealed on Aug 29, 2019 “on the basis of a resolution disapproving it passed by the Senate”, adding that “it is submitted that the petitioner No. 1 was appointed under the Ordinance II of 2019, the repeal of the same ipso facto terminates his appointment as the registrar”.

“Consequently, with effect from August 29, 2019, the office of the registrar PMDC stood vacated. The petitioner No. 1 is no longer the registrar PMDC,” the NHS secretary asserted.

He concluded that Brig Siddiqui “is holding or purporting to hold the office of the registrar/a public office without any lawful authority”.

The NHS ministry requested the court to recall the March 30 order that allowed Mr Siddiqui to sit in the PMDC registrar office.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2020