KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) extended on Wednesday its earlier interim order, restraining private schools from charging an enhanced fee and taking any action against students in this regard, till April 5.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, passed this direction to the management of four private schools, including the Beaconhouse School System, City School and Foundation Public School. Meanwhile, the court also directed the parents to continue paying tuition fee with 5% increase, along with other dues, till final disposal of the matter.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, the parents’ lawyer Nouman Jamali argued that another bench in its judgment had recently quashed Rule 7(C) of the Rules of 2001 and the provincial government was directed to formulate the relevant rules, if it wished, within 90 days.
He argued that till such rules were formulated the tuition fee cannot be enhanced. He informed the bench that the management of private schools had been issuing vouchers to demand a fee with an increase of more than 5% in alleged violation of the previous stay order granted by the court.
Advocate Kamal Azfar, who represented Beaconhouse School System, argued that the court had directed the government to formulate rules in consultation with the private schools. He claimed that in light of the recent court judgment, the schools had been permitted to increase their fee in proportion to expenditures.
However, he argued that the set of petition in hand had become infructuous following a judgment announced by another bench in a similar matter.
The bench asked the lawyers for the parties to further argue on the matter on April 5. Till then, it extended its earlier interim order that restrained the private schools management from charging enhanced fee and taking any adverse action against the students. Meanwhile, it also directed the parents to continue to paying 5% enhanced tuition fee till final disposal of the matter.
Petitioners Bushra Jabeen, Arshad Fawad, Mohammad Shariq Feroz and 600 other parents had challenged the increase in tuition fees at four private schools in an alleged violation of the Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulation and Control) Ordinance, 2001.
The parents said their children were studying at private schools situated in KDA, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Qasimabad, and the schools’ administrations had increased the tuition fee by 12% to 60% in violation of the ordinance.
Earlier, on January 19 this year, the court had directed that the private schools’ administrations should not take any action by way of enhancement of fee or otherwise prejudicial to any student whose parent or guardian was a petitioner in the instant case, including and in particular but not limited by way of action, on the reminder notices sent to the parents or guardians in relation to enhanced fees.