ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday declared presidential ordinance about dissolution of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) illegal and issued directives to reinstate as many as 220 employees of the council.

A single-member bench of the IHC comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani pronounced a short order in the matter and also issued orders for dissolution of recently established Pakistan Medial Commission (PMC) terming it as null and void.

Last year in October, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated an ordinance, through which the PMDC Ordinance, 1962 was repealed and council established thereunder was dissolved and a new commission namely the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) was established. Consequently, the services of 220 employees of erstwhile PMDC were terminated.

Former registrar of the PMDC, Dr Sitara Hassan and many other employees invoked jurisdiction of the IHC for remedy by challenging the formation of PMC. The counsel for aggrieved party advocate Umer Sajjad Chaven filed petition before the IHC arguing that president’s power to promulgate ordinances can only be used to bring about such legislation only when the Parliament is not in session and there is emergency situation like war, famine, epidemic, or rebellion. Urging the bench to declare the impugned ordinance illegal, unconstitutional being ultra vires under Article 89 of the constitution, Chaven argued that ordinance was promulgated in a mala fide manner.

Earlier, the President of Pakistan on January 9, 2019 promulgated the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council Ordinance, 2019 established a new Council. The PMDC Ordinance 2019 was placed before the Senate and on August 29, 2019, after due deliberations on the provisions of the PMDC Ordinance 2019, the senate disapproved the said Ordinance by majority votes through a resolution under subparagraph (ii) paragraph (a) clause (2) of Article 89 of the constitution.

Chaven further contended that re-promulgation of identical ordinance by the president is fraud to the constitution as declared by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Fahad Malik case. Similarly, re-promulgation of ordinances is constitutionally impermissible since it represents an effort to overreach the legislative body, which is a primary source of law making authority in a parliamentary democracy.

Advocate Chaven sought the court intervention saying employees of the PMDC have been deprived of their fundamental rights including to earn livelihood and social and economic rights and thus caused the infringement of fundamental rights as guaranteed under the constitution.

The bench had earlier reserved its matter after hearing arguments of both the sides. In this matter, the petition also said that the services of the PMDC employees were terminated without giving them a proper opportunity of hearing. It expressed apprehensions that the newly-formed PMC may hire the services of new employees against the sanctioned and contractual positions through other modes after issuance of advertisement, which would jeopardise the vested rights to serve the council’s previous employees.

The petitioners requested the court to declare the ordinance for the establishment of the PMC as unconstitutional and in the meanwhile allow the erstwhile PMDC employees to continue work in the newly formed commission.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Tuesday welcomed restoration of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) by Islamabad High Court (IHC). In a statement issued PMA welcomed the IHC decision for declaring dissolution of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) by a presidential ordinance as ‘null and void’. It said that PMA had already declared PMC Ordinance as an illegal document believing that PMC had a lot of flaws and would be disastrous not only for the doctors’ fraternity, but the medical education and healthcare of the country.

It said that now PMA believes that an interim committee should be formed to run the day to day affairs and hold elections of PMDC within 100 days according to the PMDC ordinance 1962.

It further said that the PMA believes that the democratic government should consult with the stakeholders like PMA and other bodies then after developing a consensus, the bill should be tabled in the parliament, so that all the political parties can give their proposals and a unanimous legislation could take place. By this mechanism legislation, would be possible for improving the healthcare and medical education.