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AJK govt appoints Poonch Medical College principal despite stay order.

Byline: Tariq Naqash

MUZAFFARABAD -- Azad Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed the principal of Poonch Medical College (PMC), Rawalakot, in alleged violation of a stay order granted by the AJK High Court on the proceedings of a committee constituted for the appointment of principals of the two-state run medical colleges.

According to a notification issued by the government on Tuesday last, Prof Dr Azhar Qayyum has been appointed as principal of PMC, Rawalakot, on the recommendation of the Selection and Recruitment Committee, headed by the chief secretary.

Mr Qayyum was serving as professor of pathology in the state-run Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College (MBBSMC), Mirpur, before his fresh appointment.

Special secretary health says joining of principal put on hold till court disposes of the matter

The committee had conducted interviews for the vacant posts of principals of AJKMC and PMC on July 2. However, three members of the faculty of AJKMC, including Prof Dr Adnan Mehraj, Prof Dr Raja Ijaz Ahmed and Prof Dr Javed Iqbal Rathore, had filed a petition in the High Court for declaring the proceedings of the committee unlawful due to the inclusion of Prof Dr Shabir Ahmed Chaudhry and Prof Dr Sarosh Majeed Salaria, holding the posts of acting principals in PMC and AJKMC, respectively, in the committee as members/secretary.

The post of principal in AJKMC had fallen vacant in Dec 2017 after the high court and Supreme Court had nullified the appointment of then principal Prof Dr Jamshed Ali on a petition filed by Prof Dr Mehraj.

The additional charge of the office of AJKMC principal was given to vice-principal Mr Salaria, ever since, even though he did not possess the mandatory Level-III qualification.

Interestingly, the order regarding his appointment was issued by the health secretariat whereas according to the provisions of an Act and service rules of the medical colleges, the appointing authority for the posts of principals is a 'governing body,' headed by the prime minister.

Similarly, in PMC, the post of principal, which had fallen vacant after resignation of Prof Dr Ziaur Rehman, was being held by Prof Shabir Chaudhry since May 2018 under the orders of the prime minister, instead of the governing body.

The petitioners had maintained that both acting principals had 'unlawfully' attended the selection committee meeting as members.

The committee conducted its proceedings notwithstanding their objection, the petitioners maintained, alleging that they had been denied the certified copies of the proceedings, names of committee members and list of the candidates.

On their plea that the committee should be directed to hold fresh interviews of the candidates after exclusion of acting principals, the AJK High Court bench comprising Justice Raja Raza Ali Khan had ordered maintenance of status quo on July 29.

However, in alleged violation of the court order, not only the notification regarding the appointment of PMC principal was issued by the government on July 30, fresh applications for the post of AJKMC principal were also invited through a newspaper advertisement on Wednesday.

Raja Mohammad Hanif, counsel for the petitioners, told mediapersons that both acts [of government] amounted to deliberate commission of the contempt of court and would be challenged at the appropriate forum.

The counsel also distributed the Punjab government's documents among reporters, revealing that AJKMC acting principal Salaria had simultaneously held a position in the Punjab health department until his retirement on superannuation in January this year.

When asked, special secretary health Sohail Azam told Dawn that the appointment process was initiated two weeks ago and the PMC principal had given joining report on July 31.

'However, after coming to know about the court order today, we have put his joining on hold till the matter is disposed of by the court,' he said.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 2, 2019
Words:690
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