Sindh High Court extends stay on school tuition fee concession

Govt lawyer insists students cannot be expelled for failing to pay fees during lockdown

​ Our Correspondent April 22, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) extended on Wednesday its stay order on the concession in school tuition fees, earlier notified by the Sindh government

A two-member bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar was hearing a plea challenging the government's notification, which had ordered schools to give students a 20 per cent concession on tuition fees

Sindh additional advocate-general Ghulam Shabbir Shah and Sindh private schools director-general Mansoob Siddiqi appeared in court.

The Sindh government submitted its reply to the court, stating that dozens of associations were working with 12,000 private schools in Sindh, and the decision to offer a 20 per cent fee concession during the lockdown was taken after consultation with private schools associations.

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The reply further states that the operational functioning of the schools across the province had been suspended during the lockdown, reducing the schools' expenses by 40 per cent, whereas the schools have only been asked to offer a 20 per cent concession.

The court observed that the schools were being forced to offer the concession. "Let's assume that all the income is being claimed by the school owners, but the court should be informed at the next hearing under which law the concession is being offered," remarked Justice Akhtar.

Shah claimed that the schools would suffer no losses by offering concessions, pointing out that they were still collecting 80 per cent of the tuition fees.

The court, however, remarked that the notification should be revoked and relevant laws made, adding that it would dispose of the plea.

Shah requested the court to grant a month's extension, arguing that the cabinet meeting was not being held. He further insisted that students could not be expelled for failing to pay fees during the lockdown.

The school owners provided assurances that no students would be expelled if they could not pay the fees until the next hearing.

The court extended its stay order while adjourning the hearing till April 29.

Reopening markets

Meanwhile, another bench issued notices to the Sindh home department, Sindh chief secretary and other relevant authorities, seeking their replies on a small-scale traders' plea pursuing the opening of markets during the lockdown.

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Moving the court to allow the owners of mobile shops, electricians, sanitary ware vendors, owners of stationery shops and hairdressers to resume business, the petitioner's counsel maintained before a two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, that small-scale traders were facing inconvenience and were unable to work due to the lockdown.

At this, the court issued notices to the Sindh Home Department, Sindh chief secretary and other relevant authorities, ordering them to submit their replies on the plea on April 29.

Pillion riding ban

Separately, a plea was filed in the SHC challenging the ban on pillion riding in the province amid the lockdown.

The petitioner maintained in the plea that the Sindh home department had issued a notification on April 18, imposing a complete ban on pillion riding in Sindh, without exemptions for women, children or journalists.

The plea further pointed out that journalists were sharing news and information about coronavirus, while claiming that the ban also affected the basic rights of citizens.

It moved the court to nullify the notification, nominating the Sindh home department, Sindh government and the Karachi police chief as parties in the plea.

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