The Peshawar High Court on Monday upheld the decision of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caretaker cabinet to conduct the Sept 10 Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT) afresh within six weeks.
The judgement in the case came from a bench comprising Justice Syed Arshad Ali and Justice Wiqar Ahmad, which reserved it on Oct 3 after hearing detailed arguments of lawyers for the provincial government, Khyber Medical University (KMU), Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), Education Testing and Evaluation Authority (ETEA), and candidates.
On Sept 28, the KP cabinet had decided about fresh MDCAT afresh after a joint investigation team constituted by the government revealed massive cheating in the test.
In the judgement, the bench declared that under the facts and circumstances of the case when the “mass cheating was unearthed by the JIT, the provincial government ought to have cancelled the MDCAT and so, the decision of the provincial government cancelling the MDCAT and its direction for holding the MDCAT afresh was in accordance with its mandate and therefore, it didn’t call for any interference.” JIT constituted by govt had revealed massive cheating in Sept 10 test
It directed the provincial government to conduct the MDCAT within the time period as provided by the caretaker cabinet (six weeks) ensuring transparency in the test.
The bench also asked the PMDC to formally inform the provincial government, after consulting the admitting university, a date to hold the MDCAT afresh across the province within six weeks.
It noted that the aspirants of medical education in Pakistan were required to undergo and pass the MDCAT for such admissions.
The court said that Section 17 of the PMDC Act, 2023, envisaged that each province, as per the policy and standard approved by the provincial and federal government respectively, would conduct on the dates approved the council a single admission test based on the intermediate or equivalent syllabus for all students seeking enrolment in the undergraduate programme both in public and private medical and dental colleges.
It added that the same law envisaged admission to medical and dental programmes conducted by the colleges and universities would be regulated as per the policy and standard of the federal government through minister in charge and provincial government.
The bench noted that the same Act also provided that no student would be awarded a medical or dental degree in Pakistan who had not passed the MDCAT prior to obtaining admission to medical or dental colleges in the country.
The test conducted by the ETEA on Sept 10 triggered a major controversy as scores of candidates were arrested after being caught red-handed using modern electronic gadgets for cheating.
Several candidates alleged that the use of unfair means, including electronic gadgets, “tainted” the test.
The high court stopped the KMU and ETEA on Sept 15 from uploading MDCAT results on their websites until further orders. The KP government constituted a seven-member JIT to probe those test irregularities.
Scores of candidates sent applications to the high court’s Human Rights Cell seeking the test’s cancellation over “massive irregularities.” The applications were converted into petitions by the court.
Similarly, several candidates, who obtained high marks in the MDCAT, filed petitions requesting the court not to cancel the test and to direct the respondents, including PMDC, KMU and ETEA, to declare results of the test.