LAHORE: Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan of Lahore High Court on Thursday struck down devolution of Sheikh Zayed Postgraduate Medical Institute (SZPMI) from federal to Punjab government. The judge ordered that the SZPMI shall stand restored to the federal government in position where it was before the impugned devolution. The judge also declared illegal all the appointments, including the chairman of the institute, made by the provincial government after the purported devolution. The judge passed the order on a number of petitions moved on behalf of All Pakistan Paramedical Staff Federation and others. The petitioners challenged a 2012 order issued by the cabinet division on the direction of the then prime minister transferring the administrative control of the institute along with its components, assets, liabilities, staff etc from the federal to the Punjab government. The counsel submitted that the SZPMI was established by the federal government and its management/control was run by the board of governors under the resolution on May 29, 1986. He said that under the 18th constitutional amendment, the administrative control of this institute was given to the Punjab government through the impugned notification issued on February 14, 2012. He asserted that this institution/hospital at the time of devolution was under the administrative control of cabinet division and not under the Federal Ministry of Health as such it could not be devolved. He also said that SZPMI on account of its autonomous status, unique and special character it did not fall under the domain of 18th Amendment. He further said that this institute was not established under any trust as there was no mentioning of any trust in the entire resolution under which the institute was established. A federal law officer argued that the decision of the hospital’s devolution had not been taken by the cabinet, which was mandatory under the law. The counsel of Punjab government while opposing these petitions said that the institute was established under a Trust formed on November 6, 1973. He said that this trust was not only meant for the establishment of hospital or medical colleges in Punjab only but also in other provinces of the country. He said that the SZPMI was established as autonomous institute yet the funds were provided by the trust and then prime minister competently transferred the administrative control of the institute to the provincial government. He alleged that the petitions were based on malafide as the petitioners wanted to undo the workings of the board of governors and to stop it from performing administrative functions for their personal gains. The judge earlier had passed the same verdict in 2017 which was challenged through an inter court appeal. A division bench on the appeal had suspended the decision and remanded the matter back to the single bench with a direction to decide it afresh after hearing point of view of the federal government. A single bench now announced the verdict on remand of these petitions. Published in Daily Times, January 4th 2019.