ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: A divisional bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday suspended a verdict given by a single bench which restricted private schools from collecting school fees during summer vacations, as the Supreme Court took up a number of appeals against the decisions handed down by different high courts over exorbitant fees charged by private schools in the country.
The counsel for private schools told the two-judge IHC bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani and Justice Aamer Farooq his clients had not been made a party by the previous bench even though it directly concerned them and subsequently an order was passed without hearing their arguments. The counsel also said that if private schools were not allowed to collect fee during summer vacations they would be unable to pay their teachers.
Meanwhile, in a separate case, the Peshawar High Court had said schools cannot collect more than half of the tuition fee during vacations of over 30 days and declared an annual promotion fee illegal.
The SC, which heard the appeals at its Lahore Registry on Thursday, rejected the schools’ appeals to issue stay orders on the decisions and asked all parties in the case to submit their replies.
“This is a serious issue and the court is considering a suo motu notice,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked.
He observed that a number of people have opened private schools “where they exploit parents” and said they seem to be forced to pay “more in fees than their salaries.”
“The private school mafia seems to have destroyed public schools by colluding together,” the chief justice further remarked, adding that the court was aware of how school franchises are created.
He also asked that the court be apprised on what grounds withholding tax was being charged from students.
“Everything seems to have been done for the benefit of private schools,” he remarked at one point.