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Plea against 20pc reduction in pvt schools’ fee disposed of for being infructuous

Plea against 20pc reduction in pvt schools’ fee disposed of for being infructuous

KARACHI: Provincial authorities on Wednesday informed the Sindh High Court that a new notification had been issued to provide 20 per cent concession to parents in school fees for the months of April and May after amending the rules.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar disposed of a petition against the fee concession notification issued on April 1 as infructuous.

On Wednesday, Additional Advocate General-Sindh (AAG) Ghulam Shabbir Shah filed statements along with copies of two notifications issued by the Sindh School Education and Literacy Department and the Directorate of Inspection/Registration of Private Institutions on April 27 and April 28, respectively.

According to the notifications, the Sindh Private Educational Institutions (Regulations & Control) Rules 2005 have been amended by inserting Rules 19-A and 19-E, giving powers to the registering authority (the Directorate of Inspection/Registration of Private Institutions) to issue a special order in extraordinary circumstances including enhancement or reduction in fee and remuneration of teachers and other staff.

After this amendment, an appeal against a special order can be filed before the school education and literacy secretary in case of schools and before the chief secretary in case of colleges.

SHC says Malir and Korangi DCs had done nothing to stop use of sewage in cultivation of vegetables

The AAG submitted that by exercising power under the new rules, the director general of the Directorate of Inspection/Registration of Private Institutions had issued a special order on April 28 regarding 20pc mandatory concession in the fee of students for the months of April and May in respect of privately managed schools.

He further argued that the special order had superseded the earlier directives that had been impugned in the present petition and therefore, the petition had now become infructuous.

The lawyer for petitioners agreed to the extent that the petition had become infructuous, but insisted that such amendments and the special order were discriminatory and illegal and the petitioners reserved the right to challenge the same.

The TYMS Education Private Limited and others had petitioned the SHC and challenged the notification arguing that the respondents had no authority or jurisdiction to issue such a notification and it was also not mentioned in the notification whether such a decision was taken in any meeting held by the competent authority or by the cabinet.

The petitioners further submitted that the decision was taken without hearing the privately managed schools and their association and maintained that the decision was arbitrary and against the settled principles of natural justice. They added that the question of an increase in the tuition fee had already been decided by the Supreme Court.

It may be recalled that the Directorate of Inspection/Registration of Private Institutions had issued a notification on April 1 for private schools to provide relief in the form of concession of at least 20pc in the April and May fees in view of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The SHC on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the reports of deputy commissioners of Malir and Korangi districts regarding cultivation of vegetables through sewage and directed them to appear in court along with progress reports on May 6.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar observed that both the DCs had sufficient powers and authority to remove the illegal cultivation on government lands, but they did nothing so far.

The bench observed that the cultivation of vegetables through sewage was highly injurious to the health of public and instead of controlling this menace, the DCs were shifting the burden on others.

When the petition came up for hearing, the DCs through their mukhtiarkars submitted replies.

The bench observed that a letter was also attached with the reply of DC-Malir which showed that mukhtiarkar Ibrahim Haideri sent a request to him. It was verified in the letter that vegetables and grass were being cultivated at around 290 acres of government land in the Malir River of Deh Sharabi, Taluka Ibrahim Haideri, it added.

The bench noticed in the replies of both the DCs that they were asking for help and assistance of their respective district municipal corporations and secretary of the agriculture, supply and prices department.

“This is a matter of illegal cultivation and encroachment on the government land as pointed out by the mukhtiarkar present in court that the land is owned by the government on which some illegal activities are being done including cultivation of vegetables through sewerage water”, the bench observed.

“In our view, both the deputy commissioners in their respective territorial jurisdiction have ample powers and authority to remove the same but they have done nothing so far and shifted the burden on others,” it added.

The bench said that it was not satisfied with the replies of the DCs and directed them to appear in person before it along with progress reports on May 6 and also asked the mukhtiarkars to ensure their attendance on the next hearing as well.

On the last hearing, the bench had directed the DCs of Malir and Korangi to make a task force in their territorial jurisdictions for proper vigilance and survey and to stop farming for agriculture through sewage.

The petitioner said that vegetables were being grown through sewage and industrial waste in Korangi, Malir, Landhi, Surjani Town and other areas located on the outskirts of the city and these vegetables were not fit for human consumption.

The same bench on Wednesday directed the health secretary to provide 11 thermal guns in five days to high court and district judiciary of the city for checking temperature of lawyers, litigants and staff before they enter court premises.

The bench was hearing a set of petitions filed against inadequate safety arrangements in courts particularly in the lower judiciary of the province in view of Covid-19 outbreak.

At the outset, the lawyer for the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) filed comments while health secretary also submitted a reply through a representative.

In his comments, the heath secretary also attached the opinion of the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan which stated that there was no scientific evidence that spraying of bleach or chlorine-based solution blocked transmission of Covid-19.

A health official assured the bench that arrangements would be made at the SHC clinic for proper examination and collecting samples.

The SHC registrar also informed the bench that only three thermal guns were provided to the high court and some of them were not working, adding that total requirement for the SHC was five thermal guns.

He said that no such arrangement had been made in the city courts where lawyers and litigants were continuously attending the courts.

The bench directed the health secretary to provide 11 thermal guns to the registrar of the SHC within five days and defective guns would be returned to the Sindh government.

It also asked the registrar to distribute thermal guns to district judges of Karachi and also directed him to submit a report with requirement of thermal guns at the SHC bench at Sukkur and circuit benches at Larkana and Hyderabad as well as the district courts of Sindh.

The petitioners submitted that the government of Punjab had approved some amount for lawyers in the present pandemic situation and the Lahore High Court had granted time to the federal government for allocation of funds in this regard as well.

The SBC lawyers submitted that it had received 7,000 applications of lawyers seeking financial support and the SBC had already requested the Sindh and federal governments for allocation of funds.

The bench directed the AAG and the deputy attorney general to seek progress reports from respective governments in this regard.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2020

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