KARACHI - The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday ordered private schools to restore the fee structure in place on September 20, 2017 and reimburse any fees they may have charged from parents in excess of it.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi issued the order while hearing a petition filed by parents of students, studying in different private schools in the metropolis. The petitioners sought order to restrain private school managements from increasing and charging extra fees.   

The bench which has been hearing the matter regarding more than five per cent increases in tuition fees by private schools and institutions said that private schools have to abide by its orders till the next hearing.

While expressing its annoyance for avoiding court’s earlier order, the bench warned the school managements and others that non compliance with the order will lead to contempt of court proceedings.

The court ordered private schools to cease and desist from the practice of collecting of three months’ worth of fees in one go.

The court also issued direction to private schools’ management to submit any financial details they had previously submitted to the Registrar of the Supreme Court.

During the hearing, a lawyer for the private schools appeared before the bench and submitted that they want to act upon the orders of the court after which they were asked what order they had given which was unexpected for them.

The court told the private schools’ lawyer that since the matter was ongoing since 2005, they did not want to go too far back with the fees structure so that the schools don’t have to face difficulties.

The court ordered owners of private schools to issue fees ‘challans’ or adjustment ‘challans’ on the basis of the 2017 fees structure, and directed that the schools had been charging such increased fees that parents wouldn’t need to give fees for the coming two or three months.

Justice Abbasi had asked private schools if they had charged a higher fees than the amount they were charging on Sep 20, 2017, adding that if they had it was to their benefit to adjust it.

He reminded the private schools’ lawyer that the matter had been ongoing since 2005, and the court could have, but did not enforce a much older fee structure as it could have put the schools in financial difficulty.

The court subsequently ordered owners of private schools to issue fee challans or adjustment challans on the basis of the 2017 fees structure.

The court observed that since the schools had been charging much higher fees already, the parents may not be required to pay more money for the coming two or three months.