–Bench asserts need for balance of powers between Centre and provinces
–Judge Maqbool Baqir writes dissenting note
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Thursday passed over the ownership of Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Lahore to the federal government, declaring that it “has the right to build and run hospitals”.
These orders were issued as Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar headed a five-member bench. The verdict was split 4-1 as the court ruled that the ownership and management of the hospital in Lahore had been illegally transferred to the Punjab government.
The bench pointed out that this was “a misuse of the 18th Amendment” as the building and construction of hospitals was within the mandate of the federal government.
Asserting that there should be a balance of powers between the federal and provincial governments, the verdict declared that no law can stop the transfer of the hospital to the federal government.
The judgement said that the ownership of three hospitals and the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi was also handed over to the Sindh government “illegally” and ordered that the management of all four hospitals as well as the museum be transferred to the Centre within 90 days. The provincial governments can request the court for an extension if the process of ownership’s transfer is not completed in 90 days, the ruling said.
However, a dissenting note on the judgement was written by Justice Maqbool Baqir.
On Wednesday, the apex court had dismissed a plea by the Sindh government pertaining to the ownership dispute with the federal government over three hospitals in Karachi.
A verdict by the apex court in 2016 declared the hospitals to fall under the ownership of the federal government. However, the Sindh government had contended that in accordance with the 18th Amendment, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical College (JPMC), National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) in Karachi should be devolved to the provincial government.
The 18th Constitutional Amendment, passed in April 2010 made the president a ceremonial head of state and took away the executive authority from the post.
The amendment also gave provinces a larger share of decision-making power and changed the name of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).