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January 11, 2019

Schools fee case: Enforce order or get ready to close shop: CJP

Top Story

January 11, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday warned the management of private schools that strict action will be taken against them upon their failure to implement its order in letter and spirit regarding 20 percent reduction in students’ fee.

The court clarified that its decision regarding 20 percent reduction will be applicable to all those private schools charging over Rs5,000 per student. The court directed the Law and Justice Commission to appraise it of the reaction of private schools to its earlier directives that any fee in excess of Rs5,000 must be reduced by 20 percent. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, heard a case pertaining to exorbitant fee charged by private schools.

The court again directed the owners of private schools to ensure reduction in fee or face consequences. During the hearing, President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Amanullah Kanrani informed the court that along with reducing its fee, the Beaconhouse School System had started treating its enrolled students like stepchildren. He told the court that his own children were treated poorly by the school management, adding that the management has closed the scholarship, besides reducing the staff.

The chief justice said the schools are showing their reaction after being ordered to reduce their fee. The CJP questioned whether this is the reverence that these educated people have for the court's decision. He further asked how directors of educational institutions are paid millions of rupees in salaries.

Abdul Raheem, Secretary Law and Justice Commission, informed the court about various such instances, recounting that one school reduced its fee by Rs1,000 by cutting out the Holy Quran classes, while another had asked parents to educate their children in a co-education school. He further told the court that a school in Islamabad had written to parents that after the Supreme Court's "unfair decision", it was forced to decrease the quality of its standard of education.

Meanwhile, the court summoned the school's owner, but later it was told by the Islamabad Police chief in the hearing that the school was closed. During the hearing, Private Schools Association President Zafran Elahi told the court that if schools returned one month's fee as ordered by the court, they would be forced to shut down operations.

The chief justice then told him to shut down if he wishes to do so. "What were you doing when charging high fee from the students?” the CJP asked him. "We will conduct forensic of your schools as well as your properties,” the chief justice told Zafran Elahi.

The chief justice then called Salman Akram Raja, Advocate, to the rostrum and told him that the court will initiate contempt of court proceedings against those violating the court’s order and he was required to assist the court. The chief justice said if a wrong order was passed, then a review petition could be filed, but “we will not spare those who have started campaign against the court order”.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen asked the head of the regulating body of the private schools to determine as to what action could be taken against those owners who fired their teachers in view of the court’s order. Later, the court adjourned the hearing.

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