–Court warns schools against writing ‘insulting letters’ to parents
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday barred private schools from terminating the services of teachers or reducing their salaries after its interim orders for a fee cut until further orders are passed.
The top court issued a detailed written verdict elaborating its earlier orders when it had directed private schools charging more than Rs5,000 per month to cut down their fee by 20 per cent.
The court clarified in its verdict that the orders issued on December 13 last year were applicable to all private schools that charged a fee above the limit and there were no exceptions.
Schools that charge less than that amount are exempt from those orders. However, the order has barred schools from withdrawing or reducing awards, scholarships and incentives that had already been awarded to students.
Further, any school that writes insulting letters to the parents in relation to the top court’s verdict shall be served a notice.
On January 11, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had directed the Law and Justice Commission to appraise it of the reaction of private schools to its earlier directives that any fee in excess of Rs5,000 must be reduced by 20%.
The court again directed the owners of private schools to ensure reduction in fee or face consequences.
During the hearing, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Amanullah Kanrani informed the court that along with reducing its fee, the Beaconhouse School System had started treating its enrolled students like stepchildren. He told the court that his own children were treated poorly by the school management, adding that the management has closed the scholarship, besides reducing the staff.
The chief justice said the schools are showing their reaction after being ordered to reduce their fee. The CJP questioned whether this is the reverence that these educated people have for the court’s decision. He further asked how directors of educational institutions are paid millions of rupees in salaries.
Abdul Raheem, Secretary Law and Justice Commission, informed the court about various such instances, recounting that one school reduced its fee by Rs1,000 by cutting out the Holy Quran classes, while another had asked parents to educate their children in a co-education school. He further told the court that a school in Islamabad had written to parents that after the SC’s “unfair decision”, it was forced to decrease the quality of its standard of education.
During the hearing, Private Schools Association President Zafran Elahi told the court that if schools returned one month’s fee as ordered by the court, they would be forced to shut down operations.
The chief justice then told him to shut down if he wishes to do so. “What were you doing when charging high fee from the students?” the CJP asked him. “We will conduct forensic of your schools as well as your properties,” the chief justice told Zafran Elahi.
The chief justice then called Salman Akram Raja, Advocate, to the rostrum and told him that the court will initiate contempt of court proceedings against those violating the court’s order and he was required to assist the court. The chief justice said if a wrong order was passed, then a review petition could be filed, but “we will not spare those who have started campaign against the court order”.