The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the Pakistan Medical Commission to ensure that the results of the two entry tests, one of which is for the students affected by the novel coronavirus, for admission at medical and dental colleges are announced together and a single merit list is issued in respect of the two tests.
Issuing the detailed judgment on the petition seeking the cancellation of two separate entry tests for students applying for medical and dental colleges and universities, the SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar, observed that the PMC’s council had duly approved a separate test for the students suffering from Covid-19 and, therefore, conducting the subject tests on two different dates could not be deemed illegal or ultra vires the PMC Act.
The SHC observed that the court must not lose the sight of the extraordinary and dangerous situation prevailing due to the Covid-19 pandemic which prima facie compelled the council and the PMC to announce the separate dates for conducting the MDCAT in order to segregate the applicants into two groups – one who has tested negative and the other who have tested positive for Covid-19 until November 29.s
The court observed that reason of the PMC appears not only genuine but also in the best interest of all, besides it also prevent the applicants from missing the subject test which is mandatory for seeking admission at medical or dental colleges and universities on account of being unwell and give them a chance to appear in MDCAT, ensuring they are not academically disadvantaged or their studies are not delayed by one whole academic year.
The court said such extraordinary measures are permissible in extraordinary circumstances provided such measures are not contrary to the law. The court said the PMC’s decision to conduct separate tests for the applicants having declared Covid-19 positives until November 29 has not infringed on any fundamental right of any of the applicants, including the petitioners, and the decision was not contrary to any of the provisions of the PMC Act or any other law.
The court, however, directed the PMC to ensure that the results for both the tests, which will be conducted separately, must be announced together and a single merit list is issued in respect of these tests.
The court had earlier dismissed the petition seeking the cancellation of the two separate entry tests for the students applying for medical and dental colleges and universities through short order and had directed the PMC to ensure that all standard operative procedures concerning the Covid-19 pandemic announced by the government should be strictly followed in letter and spirit.
Petitioners Syed Ahmed Maaz and others had submitted in the petition that the PMC had issued an official announcement for the medical students appearing in MDCAT examination that shall be held on two separate dates which was a violation of the law. Their counsel Jibran Nasir had submitted that the PMC had announced in the advertisement that one test would be held on November 29 for those students who were not suffering from Covid-19, while the other test would be held on December 13 for those students who had been declared positive for Covid-19 during the last two weeks.
The lawyer had submitted that the impugned decision was a violation of the PMC Act under which only a single MDCAT examination could be held. It was submitted that the subject examination should be held simultaneously for all the applicants so there should be one yardstick for judging the performance of all applicants and awarding marks to them.
He had submitted that holding examinations on two different dates would affect the criteria for judging the performance of the applicants. He had urged that the examination of all candidates could be held on two different venues on the same date.
PMC’s counsel Zeeshan Abdullah had submitted a statement on behalf of the PMC, saying the decision was made given the increase in the number of Covid-19 patients and hence for the well-being of the students. He had also filed supporting documents concerning the PMC’s decision to hold separate examinations for the students.
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