ISLAMABAD -  Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has said that his visit to the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, was unnecessarily criticised but, if needed, he would continue visiting hospitals for improvement of health sector and hospitals’ standard in the country.

“We want that the entire health sector should be revamped and the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council is the main source of it,” CJP Mian Saqib Nisar said this while hearing a suo motu case on charging of exorbitant fee by private medical colleges from students.

Justice Saqib said that if private colleges are taking donations then they are committing an illegal act and it would not be allowed.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar representing the private medical and dental colleges through the Pakistan Association of Private Medical & Dental Institutions (PAMI) argued on constitutional validity of the PMDC and the legality of the regulations framed by it.

He contended that the present Council is illegal and functioning unlawfully because it was created under the PMDC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 which lapsed on 25/04/2016. Therefore, the Council and all acts and regulations passed by it were also unlawful.

He told that the Council under the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council Ordinance, 1962 was first created and its members included from every medical, dental colleges and university. He said when the private colleges increased in the country their members are also increased in the Council.

Barrister Zafar said in 2012 the parliament passed an Amendment Act, which stated that private medical and dental colleges of each province select only one member for the council.

He said even this was not acceptable to the government therefore in 2015 dissolved the Council through an Ordinance and constituted a new council without any representation from the private medical and dental colleges.

The counsel further told that when this Ordinance lapsed and the matter was put up before the Senate of Pakistan, it refused to make this Ordinance a law and sent it to the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Barrister Zafar submitted when an Ordinance lapses under Article 89 read with Article 264 of the Constitution, then being a temporary legislation, anybody created under it also ceases to exist. He contended that consequently all members of the PMDC are working illegally and should be stopped from working. He further stated that the Ordinance of 2015 was passed without the approval of the Cabinet or CCI therefore the regulations and policies framed by the PMDC were also illegal.

He submitted that currently in the world there are top five countries that are competing for a place in the global strategy, first being India with 450 colleges, followed by Brazil with 259, China with 187 colleges and USA with 186, and Pakistan fifth with 156 colleges.

Barrister Zafar submitted the world requires more than 2.6 million doctors and 9 million nurses and other medical staff. It is expected that the number would increase to over 14 million by 2030, he added.

He stated if Pakistan produces good doctors, it will not only be the source of earning but they would also act as goodwill ambassadors for the country.

He added that currently Pakistan requires 0.5 million doctors but has 168,491 registered doctors and out of these 40,167 are specialists and even out of these, 25,000 are working abroad. Similarly, he told, Pakistan requires 0.5 million hospital beds but currently it has approximately 0.1 million beds and even out of these hospital beds, 80 per cent is being provided by private medical colleges. Therefore, more than 200 institutions needed to compete in this global strategy.

The court was told that the medical and dental colleges should be affiliated with any university of their choice. Presently, there are three public universities – University of Health Sciences, King Edward University and Fatima Jinnah Medical University and three universities are private sector, including Ripha International University, Lahore Medical and Dental Colleges, and Superior Groups of Colleges.

The chief justice questioned why the private universities were created and what was its objective? “Our life dependent on health therefore it comes under Article 9 of Constitution,” he added.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf argued that once the ordinance has some weight, validity and force of law like that of law made by Parliament then it stays. In support of his argument he referred to an Indian judgment.

However, the chief justice stopped him from citing that judgment, saying it is a bad judgment. “We will not read it,” he added. The CJP said Pakistani courts have developed laws therefore no need to cite foreign judgments.

The chief justice inquired from the AGP whether the Council could stay if the law under which it was created has lapsed. The attorney general said that No. The case is adjourned until Friday.