‘Courts can’t just sit back and review govt policies’
By Abid Butt
LAHORE: Mr Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, heading full bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), has said that courts cannot sit as timorous souls in reviewing laws and policies by the government.
The court observed that there was an arena of legislation for policymaking by the government but the courts also had self-knowledge of its working as an important organ of the state. The court consisting of Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Raja Sabir and Justice Syed Jamshed Ali will resume hearing of scores of petitions challenging the medical colleges’ compulsory affiliation to the University of Health Sciences (UHS). The court agreed and appreciated the noble objectives of the government in making a separate university for the health sciences, however, observing that the court was caught up with legal aspects and the procedure the government had adopted in making this objective and dream come true.
Senior advocate Mr Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, on behalf of the UHS, said lawmaking and taking policy decisions was the prerogative of the government, which should not be interfered for the sake of the governance. Mr Pirzada and former judge Mr Najmul Hassan Kazim, counsel for the UHS, later while opposing notification of the Punjab government, said that King Edward Medical College (KEMC) and Fatima Jinnah Medical College (FJMC) were not exempted and they were still affiliated to the UHS. They told the full bench that the UHS had never consented to exempt any medical college from its compulsory affiliation. They said they would not just defend but also vehemently oppose the recently issued notification by the Punjab health secretary through which he had, for the time being, exempted the KEMC and FJMC from the compulsory affiliation to UHS. They said the UHS had a categorical stand of affiliating all medical colleges of Punjab to the UHS as envisaged in Section 37 of the UHS Ordinance, 2002.
On the other hand, advocate general (AG) Punjab Syed Shabbar Raza Rizvi said he had no objection if the final-year students take their examination under the UHS but the Punjab University (PU) award them the degrees.
Earlier, the AG raised allegations and doubts about the present examination system of the PU and said the record of various medical colleges had been tampered with to increase the marks of influential students. The AG told the court that provisions of the affiliation were not a violation of any fundamental right and this had not happened the first time. In the past, he added, Nishtar Medical College was affiliated to Bahauddin Zikriya University, Multan, and was de-affiliated.
Mr Mansoor Shah amicus curiae submitted that Section 37 of the ordinance was ultra vires of the provisions of the Constitution as well as the ordinance itself. Mr Pirzada raised the objection and said what the counsel was doing was not the duty of the amicus curiae and the arguments smelled some malice and he might be stopped from arguing the case. Upon that Mr Shah said he had no malice but, in fact, was pointing out certain malice in law. However, the court took down the notes of the objections made by Mr Pirzada but asked Mr Shah to continue arguments. However, due to shortage of time the court adjourned the hearing to Tuesday (today).