LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar is all set to hear the case regarding the private schools fee issue at the Supreme Court’s (SC) Lahore Registry on Thursday.
The private schools operating in the Islamabad Capital Territory are facing action by their regulatory authority, Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) for charging students fee during the summer vacations despite the court’s orders.
Parents’ representative at the Rawalpindi’s District Education Authority (DEA) and Private Schools Parents Association’s President Faisal Khalid while talking to Pakistan Today, said, “The hearing is about the summer vacation fee waiver that was decided by the Islamabad and Peshawar High Courts but challenged by the schools in the SC. However, the case has been shifted to Lahore due to non-availability of all the three judges.”
He said that the decision was initially for Islamabad and Peshawar; however, “since the schools went to the SC, any verdict now will be applicable to schools throughout Pakistan”. He further said that parents from Punjab and Sindh are applicants with them too.
On asking if Punjab private schools will abide by the court’s decision, Khalid said, “Punjab schools are bigger crocodiles. But since the issue is already in the SC, I don’t know where will they challenge the verdict if it comes in the parents’ favour.”
He further said that “the issue here is not only for summer vacation fee, but the overall fee hike that needs to be checked”. However, they’ll take it one step at a time.
The IHC, in its order announced on May 18, directed PEIRA that “all private educational institutions be restrained from receiving the fee for the period of summer vacation till next date of hearing,(fixed for hearing on June 20). Amount of fee already paid by the parents/students shall be adjusted against fee for the period after vacation.”
It is pertinent to mention here that provinces’ all four high courts have already barred private schools to charge a fee for summer vacation period.
The chief executive officer of DEA also issued a public notice regarding the ban on collection of summer vacation fee in advance. The notice reads, “High Court has taken serious notice of collections of summer vacation tuition fee by most of the private schools in advance for the month of June/July 2018.”
The people formally complained about the violation of that court order by several schools prompting the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) to ask around 20 defiant schools to comply with the order.
PEIRA told schools that it would initiate legal action against them for collecting monthly tuition fee and other charges from students under the relevant law and would also communicate their names to the high court.
In 2015, LHC Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi, while hearing a petition filed by Advocate Sheeba Qaiser, had restrained owners of the private schools from collecting fee during summer vacations. The court had also directed the Punjab government and education department to take action under the law against the educational institutions for collecting summer vacations fee in advance; however, even then schools are taking fees.