KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday expressed resentment over a committee for an inordinate delay in making recommendations for finalisation of the results of sixth population census and directed its head to complete the process and submit a report.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar deplored that the federal cabinet had constituted the committee in February to deliberate and make recommendations to finalise the results within two months, but despite various orders of the bench and a lapse of considerable period the committee had not concluded it and the matter was still pending.
When a petition of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan against the delimitation of local government constituencies in Sindh came up for hearing, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) director Shaukat Zaman submitted a copy of the notification issued on Feb 18, whereby the cabinet in its meeting held on Feb 11, constituted the committee for finalisation of the census results within two months.
Asks Minister Ali Zaidi to ensure completion of cabinet-assigned task at the earliest
The bench observed that despite passing various orders in the petition, the officers concerned had again sought time to submit a progress report.
The lawyer for the petitioners argued that unless the results of the census were officially declared and notified, the delimitation exercise for local government elections would be useless and thus the petitioners approached the court for directions for finalisation of the same.
Representatives of the Council of Common Interests and PBS requested for more time to file a progress report while the law officer of the Election Commission of Pakistan submitted that the ECP had sent letters for finalisation of the census result in the past and would again pursue the matter with the committee.
The bench said that its order must be transmitted to Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi, the head of the committee, to ensure that the task assigned to the committee by the federal cabinet was completed and a report be submitted at an early date.
The leaders of MQM-P challenged the constitution of committees for delimitation of local government constituencies in the province.
Contempt plea against PMC disposed of
The same bench on Tuesday disposed of a contempt application against the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) and others and observed that its earlier order had been complied with as a common syllabus had been set by the National Medical & Dental Academic Board (NMDAB).
On Nov 11, the bench had declared the PMC Act, 2020 intra vires of the Constitution and directed the competent authority to appoint the National Medical Authority (NMA) and NMDAB within 15 days and then the NMDAB would review the formulation of the examination structure and standards for the medical and dental colleges admissions test (MDCAT) and announce a common syllabus within 10 days.
The petitioners’ lawyer filed a contempt application on the ground that common syllabus had not been set.
The lawyer for the PMC, Zeeshan Abdullah, submitted some documents and informed the bench that on Nov 12 the prime minister had appointed NMDAB for a period of three years and on Nov 20, the ministry of national health services had also appointed Dr Adil Hussain Haider as the chairman of the NMDAB.
He further submitted that the syllabus set by the NMDAB for the MDCAT had also been approved by the Medical and Dental Council for holding MDCAT exam on Nov 29 across the country.
He argued that the Nov 11 order had been complied with in letter and spirit whereas counsel for petitioners Jibran Nasir contended that the syllabus had been approved without any deliberation by the board.
“The documents placed on record are reflecting that the order passed by this court has been complied with and the common syllabus has been set by the board. No case of contempt of court is made out,” the bench in its order concluded.
Dues of retired PSM employees
Another division bench has directed the Accountant General of Pakistan (revenues) to ensure that Rs11.680 billion released by the finance division must be deposited in the account of the Pakistan Steel Mills within a week.
The bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar also asked the PSM to deposit the same amount with the court nazir after receiving it.
The bench ruled that the nazir would continue the exercise of disbursement of the said amount to the remaining/non-litigant retired employees of the PSM in terms of orders passed by the bench earlier.
Hundreds of retired employees of the PSM had petitioned the SHC for not being paid their gratuity, leave encashment and provident fund since 2013. Thereafter, on the orders of the bench, the post-retirement benefits were paid to all the petitioners a few months ago.
However, the bench had directed the respondents to also pay such dues to those retired employees of PSM who have not approached the court since they were also entitled to the same treatment.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2020