Punjab govt told to ensure SC judgement enforced in schools fee case

Updated October 15, 2019

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LHC judge directs officials to ensure no student is expelled or mistreated by schools and submit a compliance report. — Online/File
LHC judge directs officials to ensure no student is expelled or mistreated by schools and submit a compliance report. — Online/File

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday directed the provincial and district governments to ensure a judgment of the Supreme Court on the private schools fee issue was enforced in letter and spirit and that no student was expelled.

Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi was hearing several petitions moved by parents of students studying in various A-category private schools.

Schools Education Secretary Irum Bukhari and other officials were presented in the court. The parents also appeared before the court and complained about the mistreatment of their children at the hands of the schools. They said the administrations of the respective schools were not allowing their children to attend classes for initiating litigation against the fee increase.

A counsel for the private schools association argued that the fee being received from the parents was as per law. He also requested the court to refer the matter to the district registration authority, which he said was the appropriate forum with the representation of parents as well as the government.

Representing the parents, Advocate Azhar Siddique argued that the schools committed contempt by increasing fee in violation of the apex court judgement.

Justice Sethi ordered the secretary and deputy commissioner to ensure implementation of the judgement and take action against the violators. The judge further directed the officials to ensure that no student was expelled or mistreated by the schools and submit a compliance report on Oct 16. The judge also issued a notice on a contempt petition by the petitioners’ counsel and on another petition questioning collection of fee in US dollars by a private school in Lahore.

The petitioners had contended that it was the responsibility of the state to protect fundamental rights of citizens, adding that education was indeed one of them. They said profits accumulated by private institutions were unreasonable and the state had to act as a regulator to protect the right of its citizens.

The SC in its decision ordered for reduction of fees by 20 per cent ceased to be effective, subject to recalculation of fee by using fee prevailing in 2017 as the base fee in accordance with Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Act, 2017.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2019