Rs1.8m for Sindh CJ’s treatment in US
KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah is reported to have sanctioned over Rs1.823 million for overseas treatment and air fare of the Chief Justice of Sindh High Court, Mr Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, by treating it as an ‘exceptional’ case and relaxing a ban on overseas treatment at public expense.
However, according to highly placed sources, Mr Shah has not approved an additional amount of $5,000 requested for the post-operative stay in the United States and air fare of Justice Osmany’s wife who would accompany him.
Justice Osmany intends to get the surgery done in the first week of July. The sources said that Rs1.72 million, equivalent to about $20,000, was for medical expenses and Rs103,000 for travel expenses to the US and back.
The request for funds was made by Justice Osmany’s Secretary Mudasar Zawar who said the chief justice was suffering from inverted ankles owing to inflammation and weakening of tendons and required surgery on both feet.
A number of doctors in the city had advised him that “this speciality is perhaps not available in Pakistan, i.e. tendon transfer, which entails transferring a tendon from the foot to the weakened tendon and reconstruction of the arch as well as ankle joint”.
The request is accompanied by a report of Dr Christopher Hubbard, assistant professor of surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who is associated with the Beth Israel Medical Centre, New York. Justice Osmany had consulted him during a visit to the US in November last year.
The report says that after surgery Justice Osmany will need to stay in the US for approximately six weeks.
According to Dr Hubbard, Sarmad Osmany… “is here for another opinion regarding painful flat feet. He feels both are bothersome. He uses arch supports and ankle braces which help to some degree. He has seen an orthopedist in Pakistan who states that he is unsure if surgical intervention would help this problem.”
A summary moved by Law Secretary Ghulam Nabi Shah on June 7, 2010, requested for $25,000 — $20,000 for treatment and $5,000 for expenses for one month’s post-operative stay in New York — and two return air tickets for the chief justice and his wife. According to the law secretary, this was admissible under rules. The summary was passed through Law Minister Ayaz Soomro on June 8.
But, according to the sources, Finance Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho in his note to the chief minister said that the federal and Sindh governments had imposed a ban on medical treatment abroad on government expenses and there was no provision under the existing rules for advance payment on account of medical treatment abroad. However, in exceptional cases, with the approval of chief minister and on recommendation of the special medical board, medical treatment abroad has been allowed in relaxation of rules. Moreover, the High Court of Sindh is competent to decide medical reimbursement claims of their employees from the allocated fund.
Chief Secretary Fazalur Rehman said in his comments that the chief minister might allow the medical treatment as requested plus the air ticket of the chief justice. “The rest would not be a fit charge.”
In his June 12 order, the chief minister approved the request and subsequently, Secretary Pechuho directed on June 14 that a sanction advice might be issued urgently.
The sources said that in a similar case in 2004, seeking Rs607,100 for “liver cirrhosis and hepatitis C” treatment and air fare for Sindh MPA Dr Ali bin Hamid Zaidi, the federal government had refused to allow overseas treatment and written to the then Sindh chief secretary that “there is likelihood that the courts may start ordering that patients should be sent abroad at public expense on the basis of equal opportunity and fair play to all… The case was taken up with the prime minister’s secretariat who has directed that government of Sindh may be advised to strictly enforce the ban imposed on medical treatment abroad at public expense. You are requested to ensure compliance of the federal cabinet’s decision.”