Private schools tuition fee to increase by 5pc annually, SC rules

Private schools tuition fee to increase by 5pc annually, SC rules

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court upheld the Sindh High Court order and ruled that  annual increase in the tuition fee of private schools, will be five per cent.

The verdict was reserved last week by the three-member bench headed by Chief Justice  Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Faisal Arab that  was hearing a number of appeals against the cap on school fee introduced by the Sindh  and Punjab governments, with not more than 5pc increase allowed for initial three years  in the case of Sindh.

The court in its order stated that the arbitrarily determined cap of 5% imposed under  Rule 7 (3) and the manner by which it is to be enforced is an unreasonable restriction  on carrying on a lawful business.

Increase upto 8% in an academic year without recourse  to Registering Authority would be closer to the ground realities and at the same time save  the department and the schools much of the inconvenience in the periodical revision of  tuition fees, the order added.

The court directed the Government of Sindh to amend Rule 7(3) accordingly within a  period of two months.

The court also unanimously held and declared that Section 7-A of the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Ordinance, 1984, as amended by  the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment)  Act, 2017 is intra vires the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and  does not violate Articles 18, 23, 24 or 25-A thereof.

The order stated “With a majority of two against one, we are not persuaded to interfere  with Rule 7(3) of the Rules of 2005, with Faisal Arab, J. expressing the view that the  restriction imposed by Rule 7(3) ibid is unreasonable and hence invalid.”

The bench declared that upon decision of the main appeals in the terms noted above,  all interim orders passed during the pendency of the appeals (including the order dated  13.12.2018 passed in Civil Appeal No.1095/2018 regarding reduction of fees by 20%  as an interim measure) have ceased to be effective, subject to recalculation of fee by  using the fee prevailing in 2017 as the base fee, in accordance with the provision(s)  of the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment)  Act, 2017 and onwards, for the Province of Punjab.

For the Province of Sindh, fees may be recalculated using the fee prevailing on  29.06.2017 as the base fee and onwards, in accordance with the Rules of 2005  (gazetted on 29.06.2017).

Provided that the schools shall not recover any arrears  on account of the reduction in fee by reason of the interim order of this Court dated  13.12.2018 till the date of this judgment.

Therefore, all the review petitions filed  against the said interim order are disposed of in these terms.

In view of the fact that these appeals/petitions are being finally decided, all criminal  original petitions and civil miscellaneous applications are disposed of.

The court also directed that all schools shall collect the fee, strictly in accordance  with the procedure and time-frame provided by the law, the rules and regulations  including, but not limited to the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion  and Regulation) Ordinance, 1984, as amended by the Punjab Private Educational  Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Act, 2017 and the Rules of  2005.

The court also withdrew an order from last year passed by former chief justice  Mian Saqib Nisar for private schools to reduce their tuition fee by 20pc. At the  same time, the court barred administrations of schools to retrieve the money  as outstanding charges.