Solve education, health issues or forget Orange Train: CJP

Amir Riaz

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Saturday barred the doctors from staging strikes, banned use of injection to boost milk production in animals and stopped the lower courts from granting stay orders in favour of the illegal marriage halls.

On the other hand, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, hearing a suo moto notice into the poor state of public hospitals in Punjab, warned that he would close down all the projects, including Orange Line Metro Train, if health and education sectors were not improved.

A three-member bench, headed by the chief justice and comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing different issues of public welfare at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry.

The chief justice ordered the government to submit a report after having audit of the hospitals. He also took notice of Punjab government doling out advertisements, seeking the record of expenditures incurred on advertisement campaign within 10 days. He also directed the Punjab government to present reports on the budget of the public sector hospitals, health facilities and medicine being provided to the citizens. “Why the doctors of public sector hospitals are running private clinics,” the chief justice asked the officers, adding: “We’ll shut down these clinics” and “there is no shortage of resources.”

Addressing Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, the chief justice said they would stop Orange Line and other projects, if health and education were not improved. “I’m concerned over the health facilities being provided to the citizens and no one should tell me that this is not possible,” he remarked. “We didn’t take the notice to proceed against anyone but we are providing you assistance to address the issues,” he said. The bench directed the medical superintendents of various public hospitals to come up with reports on facilities and budget of their hospitals along with their affidavits.

Chief Justice Saqib also took notice of the closure of roads in the city. “The closure of roads is violation of the basic rights,” he remarked.

Also on Saturday, the apex court rejected new tetra packing of tea whitener by the milk manufacturing companies, requiring them to clearly mention on it that “it is not milk”. A three-member bench led by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu notice on adulterated milk, sale of tea whitener in the name of packed milk and milk boosting injections being sold across the country to stimulate animals for produce extra milk.

The chief justice asked the tea whitener companies whether their product could be an alternative to milk. The companies’ lawyer told the bench that they never claimed that tea whitener was an alternative. The bench asked the lawyer as how much time would they require to change the new packing so the people could know about 'tea whitener'.

On it, the companies’ lawyer pleaded the court for four months time to change the packing, a plea which was rejected. The lawyer pleaded again that there was a huge stock of new packs of tea whitener and skimmed milk. At this, the chief justice expressed serious concern and directed the company to destroy the stock. Chief Justice Nisar ordered the companies to issue new packs within a month, while clearly printing a message on them that the tea whitener was not milk. “I myself never knew that Every Day was not milk,” the top judge remarked, adding: “Stop deceiving the public.”

The top court, during the proceedings, also banned sale of injections that boost milk in animals. “Steroid milk is causing cancer and diseases,” the bench remarked and also vacated the Sindh High Court’s stay on import of chemicals used in injections. The court also directed the government authorities to submit compliance report within 10 days.

Separately, the Supreme Court banned registration of new private medical colleges but allowed the registered institutions to make new admissions, warning that there would be no tolerance if any private medical college charged more than Rs 642,000 as annual fee. The three-member bench was hearing a suo motu notice into fee structure of private medical colleges.

The top judge also constituted a committee headed by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf to examine the facilities at the registered medical colleges, and stopped Young Doctors Association from observing strikes. Addressing YDA General Secretary Salman Kazmi, he said they would not go on strike and if they had any issue they should present it before the court.

The CEOs of various private medical colleges, health officials and senior law officers were present in the court. They also submitted affidavits and reports before the bench. “Private colleges and universities would not be allowed if they lacked the facilities,” the chief justice remarked.

During the proceedings, a student complained about the administration of Sharif Medical College over a matter of fee. The bench observed dismay over the situation and observed that if a concession of Rs 50,000 was given to the student, the college would not have collapsed.

The DG LDA submitted a report on Hameed Latif Hospital, saying the construction of the hospital is illegal. The court ordered him to demolish the hospital, if it is illegal. However, the lawyer representing the hospital told the bench that the entire building was not illegal. The bench directed the hospital administration to submit reply to the LDA’s stance and adjourned the hearing. However, the bench directed the committee to visit the private medical colleges to examine the facilities and submit reports.

The apex court barred civil courts from issuing stay orders against illegal marriage halls, with the directives to the LDA to take action against their owners and submit reports. Hearing a suo motu notice into provision of clean water, the chief justice expressed his anger at the Punjab chief secretary after the water taken from his chamber was found to be contaminated with arsenic. “If the Sindh chief minister can be summoned to court, then why not the Punjab chief minister ,” he remarked. He questioned: why the people are being forced to take poison. The work to be done by the government has been handed over to private companies.

The Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources submitted reports on water supply to the Supreme Court Lahore Registry and the Lahore High Court. After going through the report, Justice Ijazul Ahsan was shocked to find that unclean water was being supplied to the Supreme Court Lahore registry. This irked the chief justice, who blasted the Punjab chief secretary. “If this is the situation in my chamber, what will be the fate of a common man?” he observed. “It is not just water, it is poison being supplied to the homes,” the top judge observed. He added, “I’ll not let it happen”. “Why don’t you install plants and stop playing havoc with people’s lives,” he questioned the chief secretary.

The chief secretary said: “According to my information, water is fine from the source, the connection is also fine; the problem is with the tap from where the samples were taken. At this, the chief justice remarked in Punjabi, “Lagta hey phir hamari tanki hi kharab hey (then our water tank might be unfit).”He said that Punjab Chief Minister conducted marathon meetings related to public welfare projects and billions of rupees are being spent on them but why the government did not take action for supply of clean water to the citizens.

Chief Justice Nisar also sought a report on where the sewage was being discharged and whether plants have been established so that the underground water could be safe. “We are killing people with no health facilities for them,” he said, posing a question to the chief secretary, “How many cancer hospitals have been established during the last 10 years,” he said and directed the top provincial bureaucrat to submit reports on water and asked the Punjab government to initiate welfare projects for the public.

The Water and Sanitation Agency also submitted its reports but pleaded for some time for more reports on the water supply. Advocate Fahd Malik, member of the commission on water issue, told the court that the PCSIR had also submitted its report which was according to the regulations of Punjab Food Authority. The bench observed that they have to determine the regulations. “International standards must be maintained while providing clean water to the citizens,” the chief justice remarked. Later, the court adjourned further hearing for an indefinite period.

Source: THE News , January 7, 2018

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