Stay granted on private schools’ plea against 20pc fee reduction lifted

Updated 21 May 2020

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Sindh High Court vacates stay order after being told that an ordinance has been promulgated. — PPI/File
Sindh High Court vacates stay order after being told that an ordinance has been promulgated. — PPI/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday vacated the stay order it granted earlier against a 20 per cent concession to parents in school fees for the months of April and May after provincial authorities informed it that the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance had been promulgated.

Earlier, the SHC had suspended a special order issued by the directorate of inspection/registration of private institutions on April 28 asking the private schools to provide the 20pc mandatory concession in the tuition fee of students for the two months after the privately managed schools challenged the same.

When the matter came up for hearing before a two-judge bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar on Wednesday, Advocate General Salman Talibuddin filed a statement along with the copy of the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020 gazetted on May 18, which was taken on record.

The chief law officer submitted that the ordinance had superseded the three clauses of the April 28 special order, which was challenged by the petitioners.

Opposition leader approaches SHC seeking directive for Speaker Agha Siraj to convene PA session

The lawyer for the petitioners argued that besides some other clauses of the special order, they had also impugned another notification issued by the school education and literacy department on April 27 to add rules 19-A to 19-E in the Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulations & Control) Rules 2005 empowering the directorate of inspection/registration of private institutions to issue a special order in extraordinary circumstances including enhancement or reduction in fee and remuneration of teachers and other staff. He requested to hear the petition in these points.

“The interim orders passed earlier need not be extended as clauses (ii), (iii) and (iv) of the impugned special order dated 28.04.2020 have now lost the field in the view of promulgation of the above ordinance,” the bench said in its order.

The TYMS Education Private Limited and others had petitioned the SHC again after their first petition was disposed of for being infructuous on a similar matter challenging the special order issued on April 28 about 20pc concession and April 27 notification regarding amendments in relevant rules by giving powers to the registering authority to issue a special order.

It may be recalled that initially, the directorate of inspection/registration of private institutions had issued a notification on April 1 for private schools to provide relief in the form of concession of at least 20pc in the April and May fees in view of Covid-19 outbreak. The same was challenged in the SHC and April 28 special order superseded it.

Opposition leader approaches SHC

Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi on Wednesday filed an application in the SHC seeking a directive for the speaker to convene the session of assembly as required under the Constitution.

In a two-page application, Mr Naqvi submitted that the speaker had called the assembly session for May 20, but for reasons not stated in a subsequent notice the session was adjourned till June 3 without being held.

He further maintained that members of all the opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly had requisitioned the session on May 7 under Article 54 of the Constitution and the requisitioned sessions had to be held within 14 days of requisitioning.

He submitted that the session was requisitioned especially to discuss the situation evolving due to Covid-19 pandemic in the province.

The opposition leader was of the view that this was a gross violation of the Constitution and requested the SHC chief justice to issue a direction to Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani to convene the session as per the requirements of Constitution.

Bail granted in anchor murder case

The SHC has granted bail to a suspect in a case pertaining to the murder of TV anchorperson Mureed Abbas and another, observing that it was a case of further inquiry.

Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar granted bail to Adil Zaman, the brother of main suspect Atif Zaman, against a surety bond of Rs200,000.

The bench further said perusal of the record revealed that a prosecution witness had only levelled an allegation that the applicant was present along with the main suspect at the time of firing. It added that the witness in question had relations with the complainant party and thus a false implication could not be ruled out.

The bench said that prima facie the case against the applicant was doubtful and he could not be denied concession of bail.

Atif Zaman was booked and arrested for allegedly killing his two business partners Mureed Abbas and Khizar Hayat in Khayaban-i-Bukhari, Defence Housing Authority, in July last year. Later, police also arrested his brother Adil.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020