KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, and the provincial authorities to ensure that the hostel of the historical Noor Mohammad High School in Hyderabad be vacated within three months as the building was meant for education purpose.

A single-judge bench of SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar said that possession of the hostel, currently being used to accommodate the paramilitary force, be handed over to the management of the school.

The Rangers may need accommodation but such need alone can’t be a reason to occupy such buildings. It is for the government to make arrangement for their accommodation, if needed, according to the court order.

The bench further directed the culture secretary to depute a team to inspect the Noor Muhammad School, Muslim Degree College and Makhdoom Bilawal Hostel within the scope of heritage and all three buildings be notified, if they qualify the required criterion, and be maintained and preserved at the expenses of the state.

In the light of the last order of the bench about inspection of Noor Muhammad High School, an assistant commissioner of Hyderabad submitted in court an interim compliance report while a deputy director of education also filed a report. The bench was informed that an area of 14,550 square yards (around three-and-a-half acres) of the school’s land was entered in the city survey record in the name of Muslim Education Society in the year 1934 after it was donated by Noor Muhammad Lakhiar Advocate after disposing of all his assets, including his house.

The reports further said that the buildings of school, hostel and college were of unique in nature having historical value and architecture site as well, adding that the hostel was occupied by the Rangers.

The bench in its order said that the admission regarding historical value and architectural substance of such buildings, prima facie, required that such valuable architectural building must be preserved while keeping the educational institutions’ value thereof.

“Accordingly, issue notice to home secretary, Government of Sindh, Director General, Pakistan Rangers, commissioner Hyderabad as well as chief secretary Sindh with direction that they shall ensure that hostel which is meant for education purpose is vacated within three months. They shall ensure that possession should be given to Noor Muhammad High School’s management”, it added.

Regarding 21 tenants of the shops owned by Noor Muhammad High School, the report said that the tenants were depositing rent with a rent controller. The bench directed the rent controller to ensure that the rent amount was transferred into the account of school and the same must be utilised by the committee as notified by the government.

The headmaster of school contended that the shops’ spaces were required for education purposes. The bench said they would be at liberty to approach civil court/rent controller for possession of such shops in accordance with law while pleading ground of bona fide need for educational purpose.

The assistant commissioner sought time to place on record final reports of the deputy commissioner and director education.

In pursuance of last order, the bench also directed secretary school education to notify the Sindh Education Policy Oversight Council within a week to monitor the public-sector education to overcome the shortcomings pointed out by an SHC-mandated education committee.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2021

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