Punjab govt withdraws notification for healthcare commission board

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The Punjab government on Friday withdrew a notification for the formation of the Punjab Healthcare Commission board after the Supreme Court took issue with the establishment of the board without its approval.

On December 25, the SC had dissolved the Board of Commissioners and issued contempt notices to Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmeen Rashid, the provincial chief secretary, and the secretary and additional secretary health asking why the board was formed without the apex court’s approval.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case at the Lahore registry today, during which the top judge while addressing Dr. Rashid, said they had not expected that she would violate the court’s order.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that the provincial chief secretary had submitted a written reply in which he said that he had been misguided on the issue. The chief secretary said that he was simply informed of the people to be included in the board, and not whether they had the appropriate background.

Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Awais subsequently withdrew the earlier notification and assured the bench that approval would be taken before finalizing the names of those included on the board.

The SC, taking strong notice of the alleged humiliation meted out to retired Justice Amir Raza A Khan in the first meeting of the Punjab Healthcare Commission board had in November dissolved the board and ordered a new one to be formed within two weeks.

Justice Nisar had summoned Dr. Rashid and members of the PHC board to explain the resignation of the retired judge from the post of the commission’s chairperson. Expressing his ‘disappointment’ with Dr. Rashid, the chief justice said: “We had a lot of expectations from you. What kind of people have you appointed as board members?”

He had observed that the political government would not be allowed to impact the independence of regulatory authorities.

“The healthcare system is directly linked to lives,” Justice Nisar remarked in today’s hearing, adding: “We will certainly not accept such sort of boards. The board should have acclaimed persons.”

Addressing the provincial health minister, the top judge said that the SC was ensuring that issues regarding hospital lifts and provision of water were resolved.

The hearing of the case was postponed until January 4.


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