Private Schools’ Fee Issue Likely To Be Settled By Oct End

Dawn

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) has hinted on settling the matter related to fees charged by private schools by the end of this month.

Adjourning the petitions of private schools as well as students’ parents, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq observed that since he had already restrained the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) from taking coercive actions, the issue would be settled as soon as possible.

Besides other issues, the petitioners were also interpreting the judgement of the Supreme Court which passed an order in which private schools were directed to reduce fee up to 20pc.

The parents, through their counsel Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon, adopted before the court that they were perturbed with the exorbitant fees being charged by private schools.

The petitioner said the matter of exorbitant fee had attracted attention throughout Pakistan. Various petitions were filed against the increase in fee or restrictions imposed thereon by the government in the Lahore High Court and Sindh High Court.

All these petitions ultimately landed in the Supreme Court. After hearing all stakeholders, including the regulatory authorities, the private schools and some parents, the apex court restrained private schools from charging fee in violation of the law, rules or regulations, the petition said, adding that the short order was followed by a detailed judgement.

After the Supreme Court announced its judgement, parents whose children were studying in private schools in Islamabad including the petitioners, approached Peira and requested its officials to implement the orders of the apex court with regard to increase in fee. Subsequently, Peira issued a notification which has been challenged before the court.

The petition said charging increased fee without any check by the state in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) would only invariably violate Article 25 of the Constitution which makes it binding on the state in unequivocal terms to ensure equal treatment of all citizens before the law.

Peira’s counsel Rashid Hanif adopted before the court that the order of the apex court on capping and reducing fees was applicable on the provinces as well as the federal capital.

He said the authority in order to implement the Supreme Court’s directive had issued a notification, however, the private schools, while interpreting the apex court order differently, challenged the same before the IHC.

It is a very drastic order that I have passed, Justice Farooq remarked, adding that since he had stopped Peira from taking coercive action against the schools, therefore, the court will not tolerate any further delay in this case.

The court also took up the matter related to the rustication of two children of Dr Uzma Qazi.

Dr Qazi through social media appealed to the authorities for taking action against the private school management. She said after she insisted on reducing the fee, the school management rusticated both her children in retaliation.

When the IHC inquired Peira about the case, counsel Rashid Hanif said the authority could hold an inquiry on the complaint received from the parents of students enrolled in registered educational institutions. The court adjourned the hearing till October 30.

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