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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday provided private schools and parents of their students with an opportunity to become party to a petition seeking the regulating of fee, and asked them to file separate applications for the purpose.

Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Mussarat Hilali also extended an interim order issued during the last hearing for private schools not to harass or act against students, who didn’t deposit summer vacation fee in a lump sum, and adjourned proceedings until Oct 2.

The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by the Peshawar District Bar Association challenging different aspects of fee structures in private schools including monthly fee, sibling concession, summer vacation fee and annual fee increase. The petition was earlier decided in favour of the petitioner and several of the parents by the high court last year.

Extends order for schools against vacation fee action

However, the Supreme Court set aside the judgment few weeks ago and remanded the petition to the high court for deciding it in accordance with the law dealing with private schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

After preliminary hearing, the bench observed that the court would allow time to any of the interested parties including parents and schools management to approach the court if they wanted to become a party to the proceedings in this writ petition.

A panel of lawyers consisting of Zahidullah Zahid, Abbas khan Sangeen, Sanaullah, Taimoor Shah, Syed Bilal Jan and others, appeared before the bench and said the high court in its judgment last year had ordered the charging of half tuition fee during summer vacation.

They pointed out that after the judgment of the apex court, these schools have been using different tactics so as to pressurise the students and their parents to receive the fee of last several months lump-sum.

They pointed out that during previous hearing the court had ordered the schools not to harass the students, but different schools had still been pressuring students to deposit vacation fee in a lump sum.

OnNov 8, 2017, the high court had accepted three petitions filed by different petitioners, including the Peshawar District Bar Association, against the private educational institutions, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the regulatory authority on multiple grounds.

The court had issued several directives to the PSRA for regulating the affairs of private educational institutions under the KP Private Schools Regulatory Authority Act 2017.

In the light of the court’s judgment the PSRA approved the required regulations on Feb 19 and had subsequently issued a circular to private schools for compliance of the said regulations. The regulations provide that the institutions shall not charge more than half of the tuition fee from second/third children of the same parent.

The PSRA had also directed schools to charge only the maximum of 50 per cent of the tuition fee during vacation of more than 30 days. It had ruled that there would be complete ban on charging students for transport charges during vacation. The bench had also ruled in the previous judgment that tuition fee won’t be increased more than three per cent annually.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018