–Top court turns down Senator Rabbani’s plea for formation of full bench
–Rabbani says Article 147 will lose its value if federation interfered in provincial matter
–CJP says can’t leave masses at provinces’ mercy, will tell Centre to follow provincial regulations
ISLAMABAD: A three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench rejected NICVD representative Senator Raza Rabbani’s request seeking a full bench in a case pertaining to the devolution of three Sindh hospitals — the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical College (JPMC), National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) to the province in the light of 18th Amendment.
The request for a full bench came after a comment by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar during the last hearing wherein he had said that parliament should have debated the constitutional amendment before passing it.
However, during Friday’s hearing, Justice Ijazul Ahsan clarified the court was not reviewing the 18th Amendment, but the issue pertaining to the dissolution of certain hospitals on the basis of the amendment. To which, Senator Rabbani argued that the court had raised different questions a day earlier and it would be appropriate if a full bench was formed on this matter. He clarified that 19th Amendment was passed to bring clarity [18th Amendment],” Rabbani asserted.
The bench, however, rejected his request for a full bench.
Justice Nisar inquired if provinces were unable to improve the health sector, should the federal government not help? He wondered how could the federation remain aloof if provinces fail to cater to people’s need.
Rabbani, however, mentioned that if the federation takes over the hospitals, which come under Sindh under the 18th Amendment, then it would be akin to Article 137 losing its value. “The state comprises federal, provincial and local governments: the federal government can build hospitals in the provinces but cannot run them. If the federal government builds hospitals and runs them, then Article 137 will lose its value,” the PPP leader continued.
“How will Article 137 lose its value? Raza Rabbani sb, do not give such a big statement,” the top judge said, adding that the court only has to determine the legal point.
Addressing Senator Rabbani, he said, “You have been involved in a long political struggle and an individual like you should not create ‘discord’ between big and small provinces.”
“You want us to leave the poor at the mercy of provincial governments. As per you, the federal government should make hospitals and hand them over to provincial governments. You also want that the federal government only issue grants and the provincial governments have all other roles,” he continued.
“Even in the 1935 Constitution, the health sector had been given to provinces,” Rabbani argued. To which, Justice Nisar said that the British had introduced this law in the subcontinent and Pakistan was made after much struggle. We should start out history with our constitution.”
“If the federal government interferes in the health sector then it will create disputes between the province and federation,” the senator asserted. “The federal government will follow provincial regulations so there will be no disputes,” Justice Ahsan answered.
On Thursday, CJP Nisar said that the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan was passed without the parliament debating it.
Speaking about the 18th Amendment, he said that amendments are debated upon before being passed as laws all over the world but no such debate took place in the parliament before the 18th Amendment was passed. “How can the parliament approve the 18th Amendment without a debate,” the chief justice asked.