AG tells SC: Saitm to be abolished

The Attorney General yesterday informed the Supreme Court that a Presidential Committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena has recommended to abolish SAITM and resolve other issues pertaining to the SAITM before December 31 this year.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam appearing on behalf of Attorney General made these remarks when the appeal petition pertaining to the SAITM issue was taken up before Supreme Court.

Rajaratnam further stated that a nine-member-committee has been appointed to look into the progress of implementation of these recommendations.

The Court directed the Attorney General to make the court aware regarding the progress through a motion.

On a previous occasion a majority of a divided three-judge-Supreme Court Bench granted special leave to appeal with a petition filed by Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) challenging the judgment of Court of Appeal to register a student of South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine Limited (SAITM) in Malabe provisionally as a medical practitioner in terms of section 29(2) of the Medical Ordinance.

A Supreme Court three-judge-Bench headed by Justice Eva Wanasundara fixed the matter for argument on November 21. However, Supreme Court Judge Priyantha Jayawardena yesterday declined to sit on the bench citing personal reasons regarding this appeal application.

On a previous occasion, the Supreme Court had allowed Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) to intervene into the Appeal filed by the SLMC. Through this appeal petition, the SLMC sought an order to set aside the judgment dated January 31, 2017 by Court of Appeal.

The petitioner further sought an interim order to stay the operation of the judgment made in the writ application bearing No.CA Writ 187/2016 by Court of Appeal.

Delivering its judgment on the writ petition filed by a MBBS graduate of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine Limited (SAITM) in Malabe, the Court of Appeal on January 31 held that SAITM is empowered to grant MBBS degrees and further held that the petitioner has legal rights to register at the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) as a medical practitioner in accordance with the Medical Ordinance.

The Court of Appeal had observed that the petitioner, a MBBS graduate of SAITM has no obstacle to register at SLMC as a medical practitioner in terms of the section 29 (2) of the Medical Ordinance.

The Court of Appeal observed that on or around August 30, 2011, the former Higher Education Minister recognised SAITM as a degree awarding institute in terms of section 25 (A) of the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978.

The Court of Appeal further observed that the Higher Education Minister has not taken any steps to revoke the concerned decision in terms of the Section 27 of the said Act.

“SAITM is empowered to grant MBBS degree,” the Court observed.

In its judgment, the Court of Appeal observed that the SLMC has no power to take over the functions of the Higher Education Minister and further observed that the SLMC had acted in violation of Section 19 of the Medical Ordinance when making regulations relating to SAITM.

The Court further held that the SLMC had acted in violation of the Medical Ordinance without having any power to do so.

President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva appeared for the SLMC. President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva with Sugath Caldera appeared for the respondent. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam PC appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.

President’s Counsel Faisz Musthapha appeared for SAITM. President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana with counsel Navin Marapana and Ravindranath Dabare appeared on behalf of Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA).

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