KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed all provincial secretaries to ensure that all officials working on the Own Pay and Scale (OPS) basis and on acting charge be removed within 10 days.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also asked the health secretary to prepare rules within two months after he admitted that the Sindh Teaching Hospitals (Establishment of Management Board) Act, 2020 had been enacted, but rules had not been framed yet.

When the bench took up a set of identical petitions for hearing, Health Secretary Dr Kazim Jatoi submitted that the Sindh Teaching Hospitals (Establishment of Management Board) Act has been enacted last year, but the rules had not been framed yet.

He added that under the new law a board would run the affairs of the tertiary hospitals.

He submitted that formation of such a board was the prerogative of the Sindh chief minister, who was competent to approve the summary with regard to formation of the board of tertiary hospitals comprising all stakeholders.

However, the rules would define the mechanism with regard to purchase of medicine and other surgical instruments as well as to assign the posting including the medical superintendent, he added.

The bench directed the health secretary to ensure that rules were prepared and vetted within two months.

About the formation of the management board, the bench observed that the prerogative of one authority was never an excuse to keep lawful things delayed/hanging.

“Accordingly, secretary health shall pursue the matter and hopefully the chief minister shall appreciate the importance and requirement of constitution of ‘Board’

and shall make it functional so that the objective of enactment of the ‘Act’ be achieved without any further delay. This exercise shall be completed within 15 days with compliance report through MIT-II,” it added.

Regarding the posting on OPS basis, the health secretary along with an assistant advocate general undertook that all officers posted on OPS basis on administrative posts would be removed within 10 days and only seniors as stopgap arrangements of that grade would be posted in compliance with the apex court judgement handed down in 2014.

The health secretary submitted that there was a separate cadre of doctors qualified with MPH degree being posted on administrative posts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, but available rules did not permit such appointments in Sindh.

The bench said that the secretary would pursue and will bring amendments in those rules to establish a separate cadre for hospitals’ administration within three months.

The secretary argued that there was difficulty for doctors to perform their duties efficiently in the hospitals having Covid-19 wards due to their advanced age as they were most vulnerable to Covid-19.

He added that they were reluctant to accept the charge of MS and therefore, they may be given some relaxation.

The bench said that under these circumstances there must be consent in writing by those doctors who were eligible for the post if they were reluctant to join.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2021

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