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Thursday December 09, 2021

SHC orders refund of excessive school fees to parents

January 29, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday directed the private schools director general to implement court orders with regard to the refund of excess tuition fees to the parents and submit a compliance report.

The high court was hearing a contempt of court application filed by parents against the non-implementation of court order that declared enhancement of tuition fees by the private educational institutions over 5 per cent from their last fee schedule as illegal.

Petitioner Bushra Jabeen and others had filed the contempt application against private schools, private schools director general and others for not implementing the court orders. A counsel for the petitioners submitted that the SHC, on September 3, 2018, had declared that any increase of more than 5 per cent in tuition fees by the private educational institutions from their last fee schedule was illegal and the excess fees charged by the private institutions should either be refunded or adjusted in the future fees.

The petitioners submitted that despite the court directives, many private schools continued issuing enhanced fees challan and the education department had failed to implement the court decision. They requested the SHC to take action against the administration of private schools which were not following the court orders and direct the education department to ensure implementation of the court directives in letter and spirit.

A counsel for private schools argued that the Supreme Court (SC) had on January 10 issued an interim order with regard to reduction in private schools fee structure. The lawyer also produced a copy of the SC judgment and submitted that the order of the apex court was being complied with in letter and spirit.

Private Schools Director General Dr Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui submitted that two private schools did not have their fee structure approved from the directorate of private schools and also obtained stay orders from courts; however, the directorate suspended their registration after the stay orders lapsed and the sessions judge concerned was asked to initiate proceedings against the schools.

The director general informed the SHC that action was taken against other private schools which did not have their fee structure approved.

An SHC’s full bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, observed that the matter related to the enhancement of school fees had been heard by the SC and an appeal was also pending before the court. The SHC adjourned the matter till February 25 and in the meantime directed the private schools director general to implement the court directives with regard to the refund of the excess tuition fees.

It is pertinent to mention that a full bench of the SHC had declared that the provisions of Section 6 of the Sindh Private Educational Institution Ordinance and Rule 7(3) that restricted private educational institutions from increasing their fees more than 5 per cent did not suffer from any constitutional defect or legal infirmity and the same are intra vires to the constitution and the law.