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The Supreme Court on Thursday took up a number of appeals against decisions handed down by different high courts over exorbitant fees charged by private schools in the country.

The Islamabad High Court had recently barred private schools altogether from collecting fees during summer vacations. Meanwhile, in a separate case, the Peshawar High Court had said schools cannot collect more than half of the tuition fee during vacations of over 30 days and declared an annual promotion fee illegal.

The SC, which heard the appeals at its Lahore Registry today, rejected schools' appeals to issue stay orders on the decisions and asked all parties in the case to submit their replies.

"This is a serious issue and the court is considering a suo motu notice," Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked.

He observed that a number of people have opened private schools "where they exploit parents" and said they seem to be forced to pay "more in fees than their salaries."

"The private school mafia seems to have destroyed public schools by colluding together," the chief justice further remarked, adding that the court was aware of how school franchises are created.

He also asked that the court be apprised on what grounds withholding tax was being charged from students.

"Everything seems to have been done for the benefit of private schools," he remarked at one point.