SHC issues notice to PMDC in foreign student fee case

Jamal Khurshid
Tuesday, Nov 28, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued notices to the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) and others on a petition challenging the vires of the PMDC’s policy and regulations on foreign students.

Sameer Ahmed Siddiqui, who holds dual nationality, said in his petition that he had taken admission in the Dow International Medical College (DIMC) in the sessions 2018 as he was constrained to take admission on the foreign students quota.

Siddiqui said that the vires of regulations 2(f) and 2(g) of the PMDC Medical & Dental Undergraduate Education (Admission, Curriculum & Conduct) Policy & Regulations, 2023, are ultra vires to Article 25 of the constitution and Section 4(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1951.

His counsel said that both the terms, dual national and overseas Pakistani, have been defined and treated as foreign national, so while doing so they have in fact disentitled and deprived a Pakistani national from claiming the rights and privileges that otherwise are available to Pakistani nationals, including the right to take admission in local educational institutions.

He said that such vires amount to discriminating Pakistan-born citizens having dual nationality. The rights and privileges otherwise available to Pakistani nationals/citizens and guaranteed under the constitution cannot be withdrawn, particularly through definition clauses under any enactment or rules in violation of the constitution, he added.

He also said the petitioner was constrained to make a payment of annual fees in the sum of $17,000 when local students are making payments of Rs60,000 a year. The petitioner is also burdened unreasonably on account of huge fluctuation in the dollar rate in Pakistan, he added.

The court was requested to declare rules 2(f) and 2(g) of the PMDC’s policy and regulations ultra vires the constitution and direct the DIMC to charge the petitioner the same tuition fees as a local Pakistani student is charged.

After the preliminary hearing of the petition, an SHC division bench headed by acting chief justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi said that the contentions raised require consideration.

The bench said that since the vires of the law, and rules and regulations are also challenged, pre-admission notices are being issued to the PMDC and others as well as the attorney general of Pakistan, calling for their comments to be filed on December 13.