KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has issued a notice to the director general, inspection and registration of private schools, on an application seeking contempt proceedings against him for not complying with an earlier order regarding implementation of a law about concession in school fees during the coronavirus pandemic.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar issued the notice to the alleged contemnor with direction to file comments after the counsel for petitioners informed it that the Aug 11 order of the bench had not been complied with.
On Aug 11, the bench had disposed of two petitions moved by a non-governmental organisation and All Sindh Parents’ Association (ASPA) and directed DG Mansoob Siddiqui to implement the law about 20 per cent concession in fees during the pandemic in all educational institutions in the province and to file the first compliance report within 20 days.
SHC is informed that funds for a children’s hospital in North Karachi will be released in a week
Basically, the petitioners had approached the court for enforcement of the relevant sections of the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020 — that was adopted by the Sindh Assembly as an act — regarding concession to students in fees of educational institutions during the pandemic stating that various educational institutions were not implementing the law and charging 100pc fee from their students.
Section 3 (2)(a) of the ordinance reads: “No educational institution shall charge more than eighty percent (80%) of the total monthly fees. The relief amount, reduced equivalent to twenty percent (20%), under this Ordinance, shall not be recovered as arrears under any circumstances or under any existing or new head of account.”
Section 2 (a) of the ordinance says: “‘Educational institution’ means any preschool, elementary or secondary school, college, university, higher educational institute, madaris or any vocational, commercial, professional whether in public or private sector providing formal or non-formal education.”
Azadi Cards for senior citizens
The same bench has directed the social welfare secretary to inform it on Dec 15 that when will the Azadi Cards be issued to senior citizens for providing essential services and benefits.
The Legal Aid Society moved the SHC stating that all private hospitals and medical centres were bound to provide 25pc concession to senior citizens under the Sindh Senior Citizens Welfare Act, 2014, but the same had not been implemented yet.
When the matter came up for hearing before the bench, an assistant advocate general submitted that secretary of the social welfare department could not turn up due to the death of his relative.
The bench directed the secretary to appear in court on the next date and inform it as to when Azadi Cards would be distributed among senior citizen.
The petitioner took the plea that private hospitals were not providing such concession to senior citizens and pleaded for implementation of the law in letter and spirit.
However, the lawyers for some hospitals submitted that the concession could only be extended when the department concerned issued cards to the senior citizens as provided in the act.
Funds for children’s hospital
The SHC was informed that funds for a children’s hospital would be released within a week.
Last month, the bench had directed the provincial authorities to ensure that the funds for the Sindh Government Children Hospital North Karachi be released within a month on a petition about lack of funds for the hospital.
The additional heath secretary submitted that a summary for grant of funds had been approved and a letter sent to the finance secretary for releasing the funds.
He undertook that the funds would be released within one week.
The bench directed him to submit a progress report on Dec 11.
Officials said that the summary regarding release of funds to the Poverty Eradication Initiative (PEI), a NGO which is running the facility, was approved by the chief minister on Nov 10.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020