Rawalpindi - The private schools’ owners are allegedly defying the orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) of decreasing 20 percent fees while irking the parents and students. SCP had ordered a 20 percent decrease in fees charged by upscale private schools, and ordered them to return half the fees they had charged for summer vacations. The order is applicable to private schools across the country whose fees are in excess of Rs5, 000. The parents and students protested over the behaviour of school owners and requested CJP SCP Justice Saqib Nisar to take action against the owners of these private schools for not obeying court orders.

However, the owners of private schools said they would reduce fees as per court orders after getting detailed version of the apex court. Talking to The Nation on Thursday, Chaudhry Imran Arshad, an IT Expert, said his two daughters are enrolled in SLS School in Montessori classes at Zafran Campus and he is paying Rs 5500 tuition fees for each of them.

He said the school management is neither reducing the fees nor adjusting summer vacation dues despite clear directions of SCP. “I am being forced by the school management to deposit full fees of my daughters and the school administration will decide later whether the order of the Court should be obeyed or not,” he said. Chaudhry Imran Arshad demanded of the CJP to initiate action against the defiant owners of private schools.

Hassan, another citizen whose three children are enrolled with AIMS School System in Islamabad, said the management has been charging full fees from students, which is a clear violation of orders of the top court of the country. He said he had met the principal and asked him to announce 20 percent reduction in fees but all his efforts were in vain. He said the SCP should take suo moto notice against school owners for not acting upon court orders. Dr Muhammad Hussain, the father of four children studying in a private school at A Block, was of the view that owners of private schools put the orders of SCP in dustbins and have been charging full fees from students. He said his cousin, who is a lawyer, met the school principal with a request to reduce the school fee but the owner denied his request categorically. The CJP should summon owners of private schools over this blatant defiance.

During background interviews with The Nation, the owners of Private Schools including SLS Schools System said they have ordered the accountants to prepare lists of students to return their fees as per Court orders but right now they don’t have the detailed version of SCP. “We received an interim verdict of Court comprising 8 pages and are waiting for issuance of a detailed verdict by SCP,” they said. They said they are law abiding citizens and cannot imagine rejecting court orders. Meanwhile, SCP Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice against the owners of private schools for not respecting its orders and asked the Law and Justice Commission to apprise it of the reactions of private schools’ owners to its earlier directives that any fees in excess of Rs5,000 is to be reduced by 20 percent.

A three-member bench of SCP headed by CJP Mian Saqib Nisar while hearing a case pertaining to exorbitant fees charged by private schools asked the commission to prepare and submit a report on the scaling back of school facilities to students as well as the dismissal of teachers in the wake of its December order, and reiterated its order on reduction of fees. Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Aman Ullah also appeared before SCP and alleged that along with reducing its fees; the Beaconhouse School System had started mistreating its students and their parents. He said his own children were enrolled with the school and they are being mistreated by the school management.

“The schools are showing their reaction after being ordered to reduce their fees,” said the Chief Justice while expressing annoyance over how this is the reverence that educated people have for the court’s decision, and how directors of educational institutions are paid millions of rupees in salaries. He observed that schools had started decreasing the facilities they offer after the court’s earlier order.

The Law and Justice Commission Secretary Abdul Raheem apprised the court of various such instances, recounting that one school reduced its fee by Rs1, 000 by cutting out Quran classes, while another had asked parents to educate their children in a co-educational school.

The secretary informed the court of a school in Islamabad which had informed the parents that after the Supreme Court’s “unfair decision” it was forced to decrease the quality of its standard of education, Raheem briefed the court.

Although the court summoned the school’s owner, it was told by the Islamabad police chief later in the hearing that the school was closed.

While appearing before a three member bench of SCP, the Private Schools Association President Zafran Elahi argued that the owners of private schools would bear a huge loss if they return one month fee as ordered by the top court. On this, CJP remarked, “Then shut down the schools, I will show how to shut them down. If you wish to close the schools, close them”. The owners of private schools are pocketing billions of rupees every month, he said. The government has been unable to make up for the shortage of schools.

In fact, private schools have failed government schools, he lamented.