LHC refuses to vacate stay order on UHS merit list

Lahore High CourtLAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), on Tuesday, turned down the request of the University of Health Sciences’ (USH) counsel seeking withdrawal of stay order on October 20 merit list of the UHS for admissions in medical colleges, adding that a complete decision on the petition will be made in the next hearing.

The bench said that it would hear further arguments on the petition challenging the provision of an entry test for admission in medical colleges of Punjab today (Wednesday).The bench said that it would also take up other petitions in favour of the entrance test system filed by students who had passed the tests.The counsel of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), on Tuesday, said that all the private medical colleges were only doing business and not serving the education sector.

He also said that a uniform policy/criteria for admission was being implemented across the country since the year 2003 and a LHC single bench had also endorsed the system last year. He informed that the UHS had initially refused to follow the council’s criteria but had agreed to implement it this year. To a court’s question as to whether the private medical colleges allocated admission quota for the poor yet bright students, the PMDC’s counsel said that the private colleges did not allocate any such quota since they were totally “business organisations”.

The bench observed that the government should force the private medical colleges to allocate quota for the students belonging to the underprivileged sector of society, adding that the majority of the country’s population came under the underprivileged sector.The judge added that in case no mechanism was evolved to govern the private sector then double shifts should be introduced in public sector colleges to accommodate the poor students.The bench also questioned how will a decision against the entry tests affect the future of those students who had applied in the private medical colleges, had been selected and deposited money. The counsel said that the PMDC would take action as soon as the court gave any directions.

Meanwhile, the UHS counsel said that the private teaching/training for entrance tests could not be banned. He said that the root of the problem was the substandard FSc examination system that needed improvement. The petitioner’s counsel, Muhammad Azhar Siddique, said that non-allocation of quota for poor students was in clear violation with the Article 25 and 25-A of the constitution.The bench comprising Justice Ch Shahid Saeed and Justice Malik Shahzad made these observations while hearing petitions filed by Muhammad Zubair, Maqsood Ahmed Qureshi, Shagufta Mubeen, Robina Iqbal, Javaid Iqbal and Muhammad Khurshid.

The petitioners’ counsel said that the UHS had introduced a new method this year that gave 50 percent weightage to entry test, 40 percent to FSc numbers and 10 percent to matriculation marks.He said that earlier, 70 percent weightage was given to FSc and 30 percent to the entry test. He submitted that 50 percent weightage was being given to the entry test (MCAT), which consisted of a paper of two-and-a-half-hours that had an objective approach rather than one that was more subjective or practical.The counsel requested that directions be issued to concerned colleges and universities, asking them to wind up the criterion of entry test so that equal opportunities of education could be provided to the youth in accordance with the constitution. – Dailytimes