KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) heard on Monday the plea against private schools collecting fees of more than one month from students. The court granted schools time till April 15 to issue new challans and barred the collection of more than one months' fee.
A three-member bench, comprising Justice Aqeel Ahmad Abbasi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Muhammad Faisal Kamal, remarked that the schools had even left the tax department behind. Justice Aqeel Abbasi said, "Don't violate the court orders, we're being soft for now but don't push us towards being harsh". He asked, "Do you give a three-month salary in advance to teachers too?"
He further remarked that the schools promise Rs50,000 in their contracts but pay only Rs25,000 while charging students three months' fees in advance. He asked if the schools were waiting for a favourable decision from the Supreme Court.
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The lawyer for Foundation Public School observed that the examinations of Cambridge students will be held in May, which is why they had issued the three-month challan. The court questioned that if the session ends in May, what was the need for charging fees for June and July. The court added that after the session ends, the fee will be illegal.
The court directed Foundation Public School, Head Start and others to issue revised challans. All schools must issue the 20% fee deducted challan within a week and present the fee schedule of all classes including how much deduction has been made in each class.
The SHC ordered to a private college to issue transfer certificate to a student, Qaseem, in a case pertaining to his expulsion from the institute.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal, heard the petition in which the petitioner's counsel, GM Bhutto, maintained, "The admission of my son was dismissed, wasting one year. The admission was dismissed over non-payment of the additional fees."
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The counsel for the college maintained that the student was not expelled due to non-payment of the additional fees, but due to the breach of the code of ethics. He used to smoke at college, said the counsel.
Bhutto said that there was no library, playground or laboratory at the college and the students were unable to learn anything due to the lack of facilities.
A private college in Gulistan-e-Jauhar had cancelled the admission of the 12th-grade student in October 2017.
The court questioned the counsel of the college as to how additional fees were being charged given the Supreme Court's orders against it. The court directed the college to issue transfer certificate if it had cancelled the admission on the breach of the code of ethics. Charging advance or additional fee for transfer certificate is illegal, remarked the court.
May 12 carnage
A two-member bench heard a plea filed by Iqbal Kazmi against the Sindh government for failing to form a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the May 12th riots and sought a reply from the provincial government. The court also sought a report from the government over payment of compensation to those who were injured in the carnage and the families who lost their loved ones in the violence.
Kazmi stated that the court had ordered for the formation of a JIT within two months in September 2018, but despite the lapse of many months, the JIT has yet to be formed.
The formation of a judicial commission was requested by Kazmi, which was supported by the federal government and legal advisers but opposed by the Sindh government.
On May 12, 2007, former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had arrived in Karachi to address a lawyers' gathering. Soon after, a major portion of Karachi's main artery, Sharae Faisal, turned into a battlefield as political groups clashed with each other. The CJP was confined within the Jinnah International Airport premises and subsequently left for Islamabad without addressing the legal fraternity.
The main road was to be used for the chief justice's procession, but was made completely inaccessible to commuters as all the intersections were blocked by large containers and trucks.
The petitioner had nominated former President General (r) Pervez Musharraf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-London) founder Altaf Hussain, former interior minister, and then Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar in his petition. He claimed that MQM had wreaked havoc in Karachi on the directives of General (retd) Musharraf to prevent the former chief justice from entering the city.
More than 50 people were killed and scores of others were injured in the May 12 carnage.
Making JIT reports public
The court adjourned the hearing of a petition filed by Federal Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi, seeking to make public the JIT reports on the Baldia factory inferno, Lyari gangster Uzair Baloch and Fishermen's Cooperative Society's former chairperson Nisar Morai, due to the absence of the petitioner's lawyer.
In the previous hearing, the SHC had ruled that it will make public the JIT reports public after carefully reviewing them. The sealed JIT reports have already been submitted to the bench in pursuance of its orders.
A two-member bench heard Zaidi's petition in which he maintains that more than 250 people lost their lives in the Baldia incident but the JIT report had not been made public until now. The JIT reports of Uzair Baloch and Morai have also not been made publicly available. He claimed that Morai had confessed before the JIT about the involvement of senior politicians in the murder of seven people and argued that it was the right of citizens to know about the investigations into the crimes.
With additional reporting from PPI
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2019.
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