LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has directed the University of Health Sciences (UHS) to decide a matter of a student, hailing from India-held Kashmir, who could not return to Pakistan due to the border closure during the first wave of the Covid-19 and the university had declared her ‘failed’ in the examination of her first professional MBBS.

Ms Tahnia, a resident of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, presently resides in Lahore and studies at the Allama Iqbal Medical College on a reserved quota for foreign students.

Representing an appeal of the student, Advocate Malik Awais Khalid argued before a two-judge bench that the petitioner had appeared in her first professional MBBS examination 2019 and could not pass the subject of ‘Anatomy’ as per the mark sheet issued on March 5, 2020.

He said due to the pandemic, the petitioner was constrained to leave Lahore and return to her homeland on March 18 where she had to stay till Nov 30, 2020, due to the closure of the border.

He argued that the Health Sciences (UHS), keeping in view the pandemic situation, had announced a policy to exempt the international students from the supplementary examination and declared that a special examination would be held for them after their return to Pakistan.

The counsel pointed out that the petitioner remained in contact with the UHS through emails and the university kept delaying the supplementary examination, which was finally commenced from Nov 16, 2020.

The counsel told the bench that the petitioner could not appear in the said examination as she was unable to return to Pakistan due to the closure of the border and was allowed to cross Wagah border along with other students on Nov 29, 2020.

He said the petitioner later came to know that she had been declared failed in an examination in which she never appeared and her chance to pass a failed subject had also been counted in sheer violation of the law and her fundamental rights.

Advocate Khalid informed the division bench that previously a single bench, on a writ petition of the student, had directed the Health Sciences (UHS) to address her grievance. However, he said, an important aspect escaped the notice that the petitioner was a foreign student who could not reach Pakistan due to the Covid-19-related ban.

He said the impugned act of the UHS was against its own policy decision announced for foreign students.

He asked the bench that the order of the single bench be set aside and modified to order the UHS to hold a special supplementary examination of the petitioner.

The bench, comprising Justice Shahid Jamil Khan and Justice Asim Hafeez, disposed of the appeal and directed the UHS to decide the matter keeping in view that the petitioner was a foreign student.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2021

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