Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court yesterday nullified a notification of Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) through which it has stopped the private schools from increasing monthly fee of students.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq issued short order in this matter and set aside the PEIRA’s notification dated September 23, 2015.

Various private schools including Frobels, Head Start, Beaconhouse, City School and some others had challenged the notification before the court and sought from the IHC to set aside the not only the but also the whole act of PIERA.  However, the IHC bench accepted their first plea and set aside the notification while rejecting their second request to annul the act of PIERA. The bench has set aside the notification citing reason that it could not have been issued by an acting chairman instead of a regular chairman. Secretary ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) had been performing as acting chairman of PIERA at the time when notification was issued.

Last year in September, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken notice of the situation after widespread protests by the parents on increased amount of fee. Then, PIERA had issued a notification on September 23 saying: “The private education institutions enhanced the fee without the permission of the authority, which is not permissible under the law. All the private educational institutions are directed not to increase any fee/charge/fund in 2015. Any increase in fee/fund/charge, already charged by the institutions shall be refunded/adjusted in the subsequent challns/bills.” The notification further said, “In case of default, the authority would be constrained to act in pursuance of section 16 of PEIRA Act 2013, against the non-observing institutions.” Then, private school owners through Asma Jehangir and Shahid Hamid Advocates had challenged the notification by contending that the private schools need no permission from the federal government for increase in the school fee. The IHC bench had conditionally permitted on October 12, 2015 to Beaconhouse and City School to receive enhanced amount of fee from the students for the month of September-October after the schools assured to refund the increased amount in the next months. Later, some other private schools also joined this matter and filed petitions.

Private schools through their various counsels had maintained that the impugned notification was issued without meaningful consultation with stakeholders those were owners/management of private schools while publicizing meetings with a handful of parents.

They adopted that private schools provide state of the art educational facilities with air-conditioned rooms, power back up, fine furniture and well-educated staff. So private schools could not be compared with the government schools where children get education while sitting at the carpets.

Therefore, they had prayed to the court to declare the notification illegal, null & void and schools may be allowed to receive fees on increased rate for the academic year 2015.