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ISLAMABAD: The caretaker federal cabinet has left the decision on the appointment of Federal Drug Inspector (FDI) and determining its areas of jurisdiction under Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to the newly elected Federal Government, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

On February 22, 2024, the caretaker Cabinet was informed that Kirshan, Assistant Director (RO-12), DRAP was appointed as Federal Inspector of Drugs of Balochistan having domicile of Sindh, with the approval of the Cabinet in terms of Sections 17 and 18 of the Drugs Act, 1976 on July 22, 2022, and that the incumbent continued to hold the office to-date.

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Subsequently, in a constitution petition, Balochistan High Court (BHC), Quetta passed order on June 6, 2023, observing and directing inter alia as follows: (i) it was an admitted fact that present incumbent/FDI Kirshan had domicile of Sindh and was permanent resident of Karachi whereas the petitioner in the case had domicile of Balochistan and was permanent resident of Quetta city; (ii) it was worthwhile to further observe here that present incumbent (FDI) was less qualified than the petitioner who was Master of Pharmacy with 10 years experience in private sector, while on the other hand, the petitioner was a PhD in Molecular Sciences and had more than 10 years teaching experience along with Master in Law (LLM); and (iii) to take necessary steps for issuance of necessary notification for appointment of fully qualified FDI.

The Cabinet was informed that the Cabinet Secretary and Secretary, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination appeared in person in the BHC on October 19, 2023 to explain the case.

In its order of October 28, 2023, BHC observed as follows: “However, in view of the submission made by the Secretary Ministry of NHSR&C Islamabad and assurance rendered before the court, it is once again expected that till alternate arrangement by the province, the Federation under the Ministry of NHSR&C and DRAP shall also ensure that the issues related to appointment of Federal Inspector of Drugs, establishment of its office at Quetta and implementation of other provisions of law in letter and spirit shall also be taken place without any further delay as soon as possible and preferably within three months.”

It was apprised that a summary was submitted to the Federal Cabinet on August 3, 2023. The Cabinet considered the summary in its meeting held on October 2, 2023 and directed for submission of a panel of suitable and appropriately qualified candidates as per legal requirements.

The Cabinet further directed Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination to file a CPLA in consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice. It was noted that CPLA could not be filed owing to the Balochistan High Court order of October 19, 2023, clarifying that: “it was misinterpreted that the court had directed to appoint the Federal Inspector of Drugs holding a domicile of Balochistan, while in fact it was observed that the regular incumbent be appointed, who can regularly perform his duties. It was never directed to appoint a person only having a domicile of Balochistan and not otherwise.”

It was further apprised that subsequently a fresh summary of November 27, 2023 was submitted to the Cabinet regarding appointment of the Federal Inspector of Drugs (FID) Quetta and his area of jurisdiction. In response, Cabinet Division returned the summary with the observations to ascertain concurrence of Election Commission of Pakistan. However, the ECP did not concur with the proposal as conveyed in December 2023.

The Ministry stated that the High Court of Balochistan in CP No.1424/2020 filed by Jahandad Shah Kakar Vs Federation of Pakistan and others had passed the following orders on December 18, 2023: “ … after order of the court neither the ECP was required to issue any NOC for appointment of FID nor the Federal Cabinet was supposed to wait for any such unfounded NOC; therefore, we once again direct the Secretary, Federal Cabinet to immediately resolve the issue of appointment of Federal Inspector of drugs and in case of failure, appear in person to furnish the reasons in this behalf“.

The Ministry in the light of BHC’s directions and in pursuance of the Cabinet’s decision of October 2, 2023, submitted a panel of the following three officers to the Cabinet for consideration and approval to appoint one of them as Federal Inspector of Drugs, Quetta under section 17 of Drugs Act,1976: (i) Muhammad Yaqoob, Assistant Director (RO-12) DRAP, Islamabad; (ii) Syed Hakim Masood, Deputy Director (RO-13), DRAP, Karachi; and (iii) Shoaib Ahmed, Deputy Director (RO-13), DRAP, Karachi.

The Cabinet was apprised that the requisite qualifications/ experience for appointment of Federal Inspectors of Drugs (FIDs) as defined in the rule 3(1(a) & (b) of the Drugs (Federal Inspectors, Federal Drug Laboratory & Federal Government Analysts) Rules, 1976 included inter-alia a degree in Pharmacy and not less than ten years’ practical experience.

The Ministry solicited approval of the Federal Cabinet to the proposal for the appointment of Federal Inspector of Drugs (FID) - DRAP and his area of jurisdiction out of the submitted panel in terms of sections 17 and 18 of the Drugs Act 1976, along with draft notification duly vetted by Ministry of Law and Justice and de-notification of existing Federal Inspector of Drug, Quetta.

During the ensuing discussion, it was observed that the Federal Inspector of Drugs was placed in Quetta, whereas the pharmaceutical industry of Balochistan was concentrated in Hub. It was added that inspection involved all aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing operations and production facilities, but because of the long distance between Quetta and Hub, the objectives of monitoring and inspection might not be achieved.

It was emphasised by several Cabinet Members that the principle seat of the FID might need to be reconsidered in terms of its proximity to the location of the pharmaceutical industry by the Ministry of NHSR&C to make the FID more effective.

On consideration of the proposal submitted by the Ministry of NHSR&C for the appointment of the FID, the Cabinet was of the unanimous view that since the elections had been held and the elected government was about to be formed, it would be appropriate to let the incoming government take this decision.

After discussion, the caretaker Cabinet directed Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination to place the matter before the incoming elected government for a decision.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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