National News

SHC bars PMC from holding entry test on November 15

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) barred the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) from holding an entry test for medical colleges on November 15 after the differences of centres and provinces over the matter.

The High Court announced its short verdict in the light of the completion of arguments of counsels’ representing the petitioners. The court ordered the PMC to cancel the entry test for medical colleges scheduled for November 15 and directed the establishment of an academic board and authority within 15 days.

A two-member bench of the SHC, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and comprising Justice Adnan Iqbal Chaudhry, heard the joint petitions. The first petition was filed by the Peoples University of Medical & Health Sciences for Women and four other public and medical universities of the province against the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) and sought permission to allow the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) to conduct the test, while Ramsha Haider and other pre-medical students moved another petition through their counsel Muhammad Jibran Nasir against the admission test scheduled to be held on October 18, which was postponed later on the court orders and sought a restraining order against it.

In its short judgment, the court said that despite asserting and claiming a common syllabus to all, the PMC had made some announcements that created uncertainty, confusion, and perplexity in the minds of all applicants. The court said now the question paper of the MDCAT would be subject to a process of objection and review, which ironically compromises its very structure and standard and is sure to open a flood-gate of challenges subsequent to the MDCAT throughout the country. This is quite a unique idea that every applicant will be provided an objection form at the time of entering into the examination hall, so first, he should be obliged to do an audit exercise as to how many questions are out of his syllabus.

The court said that the candidate would be lapsed and consumed to go through the entire question paper as an examiner and then fill the objection forms. No further mechanism has been provided in the announcements as to how and when the students appearing in the MDCAT will come to know whether objections raised by them were considered, and the question considered by them to be outside the identified syllabus has been removed from scoring or not.

“Such unreasonable and nonstandard conditions amount to create hardship, distress, and uncertainty amongst the candidates and their future is also on stake unless the proper syllabus is made out by the competent authority with due deliberation and examination of the FSc syllabus of the country to make out a common syllabus without any doubts so that the candidates should not be asked to fill objection forms in the examination hall,’’ the court said in its short judgment.

The court said, “In the absence of a validly constituted National Medical Authority and not constituting the National Medical & Dental Academic Board, the Pakistan Medical Commission is restrained from holding the MDCAT scheduled to be conducted on 15-11-2020.”

However, the competent authority under Sections 10 and 15 of the PMC Act, 2020 shall within 15 days hereof appoint the National Medical & Dental Academic Board and the National Medical Authority in line with the said provisions; thereafter, within ten days, the National Medical & Dental Academic Board shall review the formulation of the examination structure and standards for the MDCAT and announce a common syllabus after which the MDCAT shall be conducted through the National Medical Authority on a date to be fixed and announced afresh at the earliest. All applicants who had applied to the PMC and their application forms were accepted before the cut-off date shall be allowed to attend the MDCAT with their same registration and admit cards, if any, issued to them.

The court said Section 18 (3) of the PMC Act, 2020, and Regulation 16 of the PMC Admission Regulations 2020-2021 permit the Provincial Governments to make a policy to cater to the domicile condition for admission to public and private medical institutions not inconsistent with the PMC Act, 2020. The Medical & Dental Council shall make regulations to set the criteria for admission priority in the scenario where applicants’ marks/scores are the same/equal.

During the hearing of the case, the National Testing Service (NTS) counsel, Munir Ahmed Rajpar, argued that all arrangements had been made for the test for the admission in provincial medical universities, so the NTS will face a huge loss.

The PMC counsel, Advocate Zeeshan Abdullah, argued that more than 200 test centres had been established for conducting the test to be held on October 15. At which, the court asked him in which areas centres have been established for the test. The counsel of NTS and PMC failed to inform the court about the test centre areas.

The counsel of universities, Sarmad Hani, argued that members included in the PMC are eligible. “There is no legal status of selected members and selected council,“ he said.

Previously on October 16, the SHC restrained the concerned authorities from conducting entry tests for medical and dental colleges on October 18.

It may be noted that the first petition was filed by Professor Dr Gulshan Ali Memon representing five universities including the Peoples University of Medical & Health Sciences for Women, Shaheed Benazirabad, Dow University of Health Science, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences, and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University, through their counsel Sarmad Hani, against the PMC and the Ministry of Health Services. The second petition was filed by Rimsha Haider and other medical students through their counsel Muhammad Jibran Nasir against separate tests by the federal and provincial governments.

The third petition was by advocate Umaima Mansoor on behalf of some other students challenging the syllabus of the PMC. The fourth petition was also filed by Dr Waris Ali & others against Pakistan Medical Commission, Medical and Dental Council, and others.

-MN Report

November 14, 2020

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