KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday observed that the classification, issued by the provincial health department, to restrict admission of Pakistani applicants, who acquired higher secondary school certificate from overseas, in public sector medical colleges was unreasonable.
The SHC further said that the same cannot be introduced in the prospectus as a device to put an otherwise eligible Pakistani citizen beyond the pale of consideration.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed directed the respondents to process the applications of petitioners for admission under the category of general merit subject to their otherwise meeting the applicable criteria and qualification in terms of placement in the overall merit list.
Three applicants had petitioned the SHC last year and submitted that they were citizens of Pakistan and permanent residents of Karachi, holding the requisite domicile certificates and permanent residence certificate and thus eligible to apply for admission to the MBBS programme at public sector colleges against general merit seats.
However, the petitioners argued that despite having passed the Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test and possessing basic academic credentials, their applications were not entertained on the ground that they had studied abroad during the past two years and received the equivalent of their higher secondary education in Saudi Arabia.
The bench in its judgement noted that question arose as the prospectus for the year 2021- 22 issued by the provincial health essentially classifying prospective Pakistani applicants who have acquired two years’ education from outside the country and attained their higher secondary school certificate or equivalent certification from abroad as overseas Pakistanis (OPs), in as much as it restricted their eligibility to seats reserved for such category.
It further said that neither comments were filed on behalf of the province nor was any serious endeavour made on the part of additional advocate general Sindh to present a proper rationale for the impugned classification
“To our minds, while a distinction may perhaps be drawn for purposes of admission between local Pakistanis and persons who are OPs, we are of the view that the latter genre cannot be broadened vide the Impugned Classification, merely on the basis of two-years of foreign education, so as to encompass persons who are Pakistani citizens and otherwise possess the qualifications and thus preclude them from applying for general merit seats,” the judgement noted.
“In our view, the Impugned Classification is unreasonable and cannot be introduced in the Prospectus as a device to put an otherwise eligible Pakistani citizen beyond the pale of consideration,” it concluded.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2023
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