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January 21, 2018

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SC bars varsities from affiliating new law colleges

LAHORE: A two-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, on Saturday restrained all government sector universities from granting affiliation to new law colleges.

The bench issued the order while hearing a petition of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry, seeking improvement in standard of legal education in the country and mushroom growth of substandard private law colleges in Lahore.

The court also constituted commissions for each four provinces to inspect standard of the institutions and the education being imparted to law students at such institutions.

As the hearing started, the bench expressed its concerns that the standard of legal education in the country had been deteriorating as every Tom, Dick, and Harry had been allowed to join the law profession and become part of the bar with impunity.

The chief justice expressed displeasure at the rapid growth of private universities and remarked that the court would close down all of them if irregularities were found in their establishment.

Separately, the chief justice took strong exception to growing environmental degradation in Lahore and asked the Environment Protection Department to submit a report after measuring pollution.

He asked the secretary environment protection to select six different areas in and outside the city for the purpose.

During the hearing, Advocate Hamid said some discrepancies had been found in the report furnished by Environment Protection Agency (EPA) pertaining to the installation of incinerators at the public sector hospitals for waste disposal.

At this, Justice Nisar chided Environment Protection Secretary Capt (retd) Saif Anjum and threw slew of questions at him about his overall performance, showing concerns over rapid increase in air pollution in the city.

The secretary would have to face consequences, if any ambiguity was found in the report, he said.

He was hearing a suo motu case with regard to the increase in environmental pollution.

“Had you issued no-objection certificate (NOC) for construction of the Orange Line Metro Train project,” the chief justice asked. The agency had become subservient to the government and overlooked its obligations under the law, he added.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Najam Ahmad Shah told the court that the process of installation of state-of-the-art multifunctional incinerator plants was under way which would soon be completed.

Following growing complaints about lack of facilities at public hospitals in Lahore, the chief justice had taken suo motu notice of the issue.

Justice Nisar directed the medical superintendents of 19 hospitals in the provincial capital to appear before the Supreme Court with a detailed report on facilities at their respective facilities.

The superintendents were ordered to appear before the court on Saturday with reports containing details of emergency equipment, CT scan machines, MRI, ambulances and other items.

The report should also explain the availability of life-saving drugs at the hospitals, and the medicines that are being provided to the patients free of cost and those that have to be purchased from outside, a notice issued by the deputy registrar said.

The chief justice further directed that the report should contain details regarding availability of qualified doctors and nursing staff.

“There has been much hue and cry from the public complaining about the non-availability of even life-saving drugs and non-functional emergency equipment,” the document read.

Also on Saturday, the Supreme Court summoned he income tax commissioner along with the record of tax returns filed by private medical and dental colleges in Lahore.

The chief justice also heard suo motu notice into provision of unclean water and took strong exception to presence of arsenic in tube wells.

Punjab Food Authority DG Noorul Amin Mengal presented a report relating to 139 tube wells of the city and stated that presence of arsenic in the water was less than the international standard. He pointed that out sample of five tube wells had been sent to laboratory for re-analysis.

He said 24 private companies involved in the business of bottled water had been sealed after their water was found dangerous for human consumption.

Justice Nisar directed the chief secretary to abstain from allowing such companies to start their business again without prior permission of the court.

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