The Peshawar High Court on Friday directed the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments and Pakistan Medical Commission to respond to two petitions against the formation of the commission and holding of the countrywide Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) by it through a private firm.
A bench consisting of Justice Ijaz Anwar and Justice Syed Arshad Ali fixed Oct 5 for the next hearing into two petitions filed by some students, who requested the court to declare the establishment of the PMC unconstitutional and against the spirit of the provincial autonomy provided in the Constitution.
The petitioners also sought the court`s orders to declare illegal the tests conducted by PMC from Aug 30 to Sept 30 through a private firm, Testing and Evaluation Platform Services.
One petition was filed by Wajahat Ali and two others students, and the other by student Jawad Afzal.
Abbas Khan Sangeen, the counsel for petitioners Wajahat and others, requested the bench to grant an interim relief to his clients by ordering the suspension of the testing process until theñnal disposal of the petition.
He said the admission seel(ers and their parents had been protesting the `faulty` testing system countrywide.
While declaring that it will decide the issue of interim relief on next hearing, the bench issued notices to the governments and PMC for that date.
Mr Abbas contended that the PMC was established through the PMC Act, 2020, for establishing a uniform standard of basic medical education and training.
He added that after the enactment of the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act, 2010, health and education subjects were devolved to the provinces, soit was the duty of the provinces to regulate and control those sectors.
The counsel contended that the PMC Act was self-contradictory in its structures and composition as there were three different bodies with the commission, including the Medical and Dental Council (MDC), the National Medical and Dental Academic Board (NMDAB), and the National Medical Authority (NMA).
He added that each of those bodies had overlapping powers and functions depriving the provinces from exercising their control over the medical and dentistry institutions.
The lawyer said it was astonishing that the provinces had to bear the expenses of setting up medical institutions butthe latter would be governed by the PMC, which was a federal entity.
He wondered if education was a provincial subject, why the entry test for admission to medical and dental colleges should be centralised.
Mr Abbas said that under Section 18 of the Act, the NMA should conduct a single admission test annually on a date approved by the MDC and in line with the standard approved by the NMDAB.
He claimed that the system adopted by the PMC had cre-ated chaos for the aspiring students as instead of a single paper,they had been appearingin tests on different dates having different papers.
The lawyer said that the paper could be simple for one group ofcandidates and difncultfor others.
Fawad Afzal and Shabina Noor, the counsel for the other petitioner, contended that the provision of equal opportunities to all citizens was the fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution, but the same was violated by the PMC by giving different papers to different candidates for a single test.
They said that 65 per cent passing marks in the MDCAT couldn`t be justified keeping in view the situation emerging from Covid-19 pandemic and that the percentage should be reduced to 50.