LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday sought personal appearance of Punjab secretary for school education to explain the alleged failure of the government to implement a decision of the Supreme Court against increase in fee by private schools.
Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi was hearing a petition moved by Judicial Activism Panel’s chairman Advocate Azhar Siddique for protection of citizens’ right to free education under Article 25-A of the Constitution.
During the hearing, the lawyer argued that the Constitution provided for the right to free education but private schools were a main hurdle in enforcement of the law.
He said the private schools had become an industry and they were only interested in filling their pockets making the quality education a luxury. He argued that it was the responsibility of the state to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens and education was indeed a fundamental right. He submitted that profits accumulated by private institutions were unreasonable and the state had to act as the regulator to protect the right of its citizens.
The lawyer pointed out that the SC in its latest decision declared that its order for reduction in fees by 20 per cent ceased to be effective, subject to recalculation of fee by using the fee prevailing in 2017 as the base fee in accordance with Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Act, 2017.
He also pleaded that the schools could not collect summer vacation fee (tuition fee) including miscellaneous charges.
The counsel asked the court to order the government to restrain all private schools from illegal increase in fee in the light of the SC judgment till final audit of the institutions by Auditor General of Pakistan.
Justice Sethi expressed displeasure over non-implementation of the apex court’s judgment by the government. The judge summoned the secretary schools education in person for Sept 26.