KARACHI: On Tuesday, the Sindh High Court expressed resentment at the committee’s undue delay in making recommendations to finalise the results of the sixth population census, and ordered its head to complete the process and submit a report.
Sindh High Court:
A two-judge bench led by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar lamented that the committee had been set up by the federal cabinet in February to deliberate and make recommendations to finalise the findings within two months, but the committee had not concluded it despite numerous instructions from the bench and a substantial lapse of time and the matter was still pending.
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When a petition by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan against the delimitation of local government constituencies in Sindh came to a hearing, Director Shaukat Zaman of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) submitted a copy of the notification released on Feb 18, by which the cabinet, at its meeting held on Feb 11, appointed a two-month committee to finalise the results of the census.
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The bench noted that the officers concerned had again sought time to file a progress report after passing numerous orders in the petition.
The counsel for the petitioners argued that the delimitation exercise for local government elections would be pointless until the results of the census were formally announced and informed, and therefore the petitioners asked the court for instructions for the finalisation of the same.
Representatives of the Council of Shared Interests and PBS demanded more time to file a progress report, while the Election Commission of Pakistan’s Law Officer submitted that the ECP had sent letters in the past to finalise the outcome of the census and would discuss the matter with the committee again.
The bench claimed that its order had to be conveyed to the head of the committee, Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi, to ensure that the mission given to the committee by the federal cabinet had been accomplished and that a report had to be provided at an early stage.
The MQM-P representatives questioned the setting up of local government constituency delimitation commissions in the region.
Contempt plea against PMC disposed of
On Tuesday, the same bench resolved a contempt plea against the Medical Commission of Pakistan (PMC) and others and noted that its previous order had been complied with by the National Medical & Dental Academic Board (NMDAB) as a common syllabus.
The bench proclaimed the PMC Act, 2020 intra vires of the Constitution on November 11 and ordered the competent authority to designate within 15 days the National Medical Authority (NMA) and NMDAB and then the NMDAB to review the formulation of the evaluation framework and requirements for the admission test for medical and dental colleges (MDCAT) and to announce a common syllabus within 10 days.
The petitioner’s lawyer lodged an appeal for contempt on the basis that no standard syllabus had been created.
PMC lawyer Zeeshan Abdullah submitted some documents and told the bench that on 12 November the Prime Minister had appointed NMDAB for a three-year term, and on 20 November the Ministry of National Health Services had also appointed Dr Adil Hussain Haider as NMDAB Chairman.
He further submitted that the syllabus for the MDCAT set by the NMDAB had already been accepted by the Medical and Dental Council for the nationwide holding of the MDCAT exam on 29 November.
He argued that the order of Nov 11 had been complied with in letter and spirit, while petitioner’s counsel Jibran Nasir argued that the syllabus had been accepted by the board without any deliberation.
The reported records reflect that the order issued by this court has been complied with and the board has developed the common syllabus. No case of contempt of court is created,’ concluded the bench in its order.
Dues of retired PSM employees
The Accountant General of Pakistan (revenues) has been ordered by another division bench to ensure that Rs11,680 billion issued by the finance division must be deposited within a week in the account of Pakistan Steel Mills.
After obtaining it the bench led by Justice Nadeem Akhtar also directed the PSM to deposit the same sum with the court nazir.
The bench ruled that in terms of orders previously passed by the bench, the nazir must resume the exercise of disbursement of the said sum to the remaining/non-litigant retired PSM personnel.
The SHC has been petitioned by hundreds of former PSM workers for not being paid their gratuity, leave encashment and provident fund since 2013. The post-retirement benefits were eventually paid to all the petitioners a few months earlier, on the orders of the court.
However the bench also ordered the respondents to pay such dues to those former PSM workers who, although they were also entitled to the same care, had not approached the court.