PMDC's reply sought in NTS paper leak case

KARACHI:December 16:The Sindh High Court (SHC) called on Friday comments from the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) on a petition against holding fresh entry tests for admissions to government-run medical colleges and universities.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, was hearing a petition filed by Pasban Pakistan and students, who had passed the entry tests held by the National Testing Service (NTS) across the province in October this year, but its results became controversial as one question paper was leaked hours before the test.

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The petition was jointly filed by Pasban Pakistan and a student, Haziq Khursheed, who had challenged the Sindh government’s decision to cancel the entry tests conducted by the NTS for medical colleges and universities.

They said that 2,100 students out of 22,000 candidates had passed the entry tests conducted at five centres. After the announcement of the test results, rumours were spread on social media that the NTS question paper had been leaked a day before the test was conducted.

They maintained that that several candidates, on the basis of such reports, questioned the validity of the NTS test and challenged it in the SHC. Subsequently, the provincial health department, without any lawful authority or reason, constituted a committee to investigate the leaking of the question paper but it was beyond its scope and jurisdiction.

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They submitted that the health department, for malafide reasons and to protect the interests of the failed candidates, issued another notification whereby the results of entry tests conducted for public medical universities on October 22 were cancelled.

They argued that the controversy of the paper leak was a campaign being carried out with the help of political influence just to destroy an independent process of entry test for private medical colleges and universities as the test conducted by NTS did not allow certain political elements to obtain money from students.

The petitioners alleged that private medical colleges and universities were getting monetary benefits in such a situation as parents were compelled to reserve seats for their children at private colleges and universities.

Therefore, the court was pleaded to declare the Sindh health department’s notification with regard to cancellation of the entry test results as illegal and order that the petitioners who passed the entry test were entitled to get admission in medical colleges or universities.

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It was requested to grant a stay against fresh entry tests for public medical colleges and universities for the 2017-18 term. They also requested the court to direct the government to develop a standard system for medical colleges and universities’ admission.

During Friday’s proceedings, the deputy attorney-general informed the judges that another bench, comprising justices Munib Akhtar and Omar Siyal, had already decided the matter in an identical petition last week. Therefore, the deputy attorney-general pleaded the court to dispose of the plea, as the purpose of filing had already been served.

However, the petitioners’ lawyer, Farah Khan, argued that her client had initiated two grievances in this petition. The first issue has been decided on, but the other issue relating to negligence on the part of PMDC was yet to be decided, he added.

“By virtue of Regulations, 2016, PMDC has decided the admission criteria, fee structure and refund of fee, which is not being compiled [with] by private medical colleges,” Advocate Khan argued.

“Under the law, PMDC is supposed to keep any eye on such violations,” she added, pleading to the court to question the top regulatory body over its negligence that led to the leaking of the questionnaire.
Therefore, the bench directed the lawyer representing PMDC to file their comments and adjourned till January 16, 2018. Express News.