The Islamabad High Court Thursday adjourned till Feb 23 a plea challenging the federal government’s decision of not allowing an increase in fees of private schools in the current academic year.
A single bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq heard the petition in which the petitioner’s counsel and the lawyer representing the parents’ body concluded their arguments.
The case was adjourned as the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) was engaged in another court.
At the last hearing, Qasim Wadood, counsel for the parents’ body, submitted that private schools had commercialised the education sector rather than serving the larger interests of the masses.
The bench remarked that compared to the rest of the world, education in Pakistan was expensive. Being a fundamental right, source of education must be inexpensive and India has crossed many milestones in this regard, Justice Farooq added.
The City School and the Beaconhouse School through their counsel Asma Jahangir and Shahid Hamid had approached the IHC challenging the federal government’s notification of September 23, 2015, directing the private educational institutions to withdraw the hike in tuition fee. The government ordered schools to either refund the amount charged from students or adjust it in the next payable fee.
The lawyers said that the notification had been passed without any consultation with the stakeholders while publicising meetings with a handful of agitating parents.
Counsel for private schools has been arguing that the government had failed to adhere to its constitutional obligation of providing free education to children and was trying to transfer the burden of its failure to the private educational institutes.
They maintained that no notice was issued to the petitioners before assessing of the notification and no attempt was made to see whether the increase in fee was as per the past pattern.
The respondents cannot constitutionally deprive petitioners of their rights to charge fee fixed by them without compensating them with appropriate amounts of subsidy in case they wish to enforce a policy decision, they added.
In the petition of the City School, Asma Jahangir stated that the notification had prohibited the petitioner to increase fee without the permission of the authority established through PEIRA, which was illegal and arbitrary.
Both, Jahangir and Hamid, had argued that the restrictions imposed of petitioners were in violation of article 18 of the constitution.