Parents demand implementation of SC ruling against private schools’ high fees

ISLAMABAD: A large number of parents and students staged a protest outside Press Club against hike in private schools fee on Saturday. They were demanding implementation of Supreme Court ruling against private schools charging excessive fees.

The protesters at the gathering organised by Capital Schools Parents Association (CSPA) were holding placards inscribed with demands of action of Supreme Court (SC) orders relating school fees while they also chanted slogans against owners of private schools.

Talking to the media after the demonstration, CSPA Chairperson Dr Uzma, said that Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) Rules had struck-down owing to which the owners of private schools had transformed into a mafia.

She demanded the government to ensure the implementation of orders of SC regarding school fees.

Dr Uzma added that PIERA had become inactive owing to the absence of a permanent chairman and expressed that schools had increased fees by 35 per cent owing to which the household budget had been wreaked.

She asked: “Should we pay school fees or purchase ration?”

She further demanded that Chief Justice of Pakistan should form a special bench in Islamabad High Court (IHC) to resolve the long-pending case of PEIRA so that its rules could be enforced.

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Further, CPSA Secretary Information Adeel Hussain, said that they had high hopes from Imran Khan who promised reforms in the education sector. He added that the condition had worsened to the point that they had to take to the streets for implementation of the apex court’s orders.

The Supreme Court on September 13 held that the right of doing business relating to the private educational services industry in order to earn money is not an ‘absolute or unfettered’ one.

“We are of the opinion that while the citizens of Pakistan have the right to conduct business relating to the private educational services industry in order to earn money, such right is not absolute or unfettered,” said 72-page detailed judgment authored by Justice Ijazul Ahsan in private schools fee case.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa has also endorsed his opinion.

The judgment said by virtue of a licensing system, the state is empowered to regulate the exercise of such right and hence, can impose certain restrictions. The power to regulate includes the power to regulate and control prices and matters related and incidental thereto.

“Instant case arose from judgments of the Lahore High Court and the Sindh High Court, before which various writ petitions were filed challenging the provisions of the law regulating schools fees of private educational institutions in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh.”

The judgment said the power to regulate and control prices/fees has to be exercised fairly and reasonably and is justiciable on the touchstone inter alia of being unreasonable or arbitrary, the onus being on the person alleging un-reasonability or arbitrariness.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2019.

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