ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked the owners of private schools to submit audit details of their institutions.
A three-judge bench headed by the chief justice heard petitions filed by parents against the hike in private school fees.
As the hearing went under way, Justice Nisar turned to private school owners and said, “You are charging a fee of your choice and say that it is your right to trade. You are selling education.”
The chief justice also lashed out at the counsel of private school owners, Shehzad Ellahi and said, “This is nothing to smile about. You say that you will charge a fee of your choice and whoever does not agree can pull out their children from the school.”
“Don’t charge such fee that children cannot continue schooling,” he said while adding that the court respects teachers.
The counsel of private school owners then presented his arguments and said the case is regarding how much the fee can be increased by. “If there is no regulation regarding the hike in school fee then we can determine it,” Justice Nisar responded.
The court broke out in applause over the chief justice’s remarks, however, the benches were strictly warned against it.
Following this, the counsel of the parents, Faisal Siddiqui, told the court, “Private school owners claim that enough profit is not saved, however, branches of schools have been increasing. A forensic audit should be conducted.”
“We will also look at the tax returns of private school owners,” he added. To this, the private school owners counsel said, “We have presented audit details of our accounts.”
The chief justice then remarked, “We issued a policy through the law and justice commission.”
He further turned to private school owners and said, “You have drifted away from the national interest of education and are involved in making money. You have widened the gap between public and private schools.”
“Parents want their children to receive the best education but it has become an industry,” he added.
“People normally draw a salary of Rs100,000 to Rs150,000 per month so how is a man who has three children supposed to pay a fee of Rs30,000 per child? There has to be fee regularisation,” he said.
Court adviser Latif Khosa then told the bench, “There are three different kinds of education systems in the country and students of all three of them hate each other.”
The chief justice then said, “I receive reports on a daily basis regarding usage of drugs in schools.”
“In expensive schools, lower staff is handing out drugs to children. I, however, do not want to name schools,” he added.
Justice Nisar continued, “I want everyone to have the same syllabus, books, uniform and bag but could not do this.”
The Supreme Court then directed that all concerned sit with the law and justice commission and determine a fee and give recommendations for drafting a law. “After this we will form a committee, and a committee of counsels of all respondents should resolve this issue,” the bench added.
The hearing of the case was then adjourned for two weeks.