Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar on Thursday expressed his annoyance at private school owners’ reaction to the Supreme Court’s order of 20 percent reduction in fee.
A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice Nisar was hearing a suo motu case against tuition fee hikes by private schools. In its December 13 ruling, the court had ordered all private schools charging above Rs5,000 in monthly fee to cut the fee by 20 percent.
Reiterating the court’s order, the chief justice expressed his displeasure at how the schools were reacting by cutting back on basic facilities for students and dismissing teachers.
“The schools are now showing reaction over the fee cut verdict. They are ridiculing the court’s decision; we won’t tolerate such actions. We will put them on trial,” Justice Nisar remarked during the hearing.
Private Schools Association President Zafran Elahi informed the court that the schools will shut down if they give back the fees taken during vacations.
“It’s better if such schools are shut down which are unable to give back fees. You are trying to blackmail the court,” the top adjudicator observed.
The chief justice reiterated that the verdict of 20 percent fee cut was applicable on all private schools charging over Rs 5,000 in monthly fee.
Supreme Court Bar Association president Amanullah Kanzai informed the court that a few schools had adopted a questionable attitude towards students after the fee cut verdict. “The schools may have cut down the fee but they have also put an end to the facilities to students,” the court was told.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct a forensic audit of schools which had not returned the fee taken during vacations.
A Federal Board of Revenue representative informed the court that private schools are tax defaulters of as much as Rs 1.2 billion. He added that action was being taken against seven big private schools but a few of them had obtained stay orders.
The Chief Justice expressed his concern over the schools’ reaction and instructed FBR to show him the financial documents of the schools in question.