LAHORE - The private schools have taken a plea of ‘favourtism’ in Punjab government’s policies for elite schools while challenging the recently introduced Private Educational Institutions Ordinance, 2015.

“Partial policies of the Punjab government are impracticable; if Aitcheson College, Sadiqabad School can charge thousands of rupees in fee, why not the private schools,” argued Shahid Hamid, a lawyer of private schools.

“The Punjab government spends Rs20 million for each Daanish School each year while Aitchison College charges parallel to the private schools,” the lawyer told the Lahore High Court yesterday.

He pointed out that there was no regulatory authority to monitor schools’ expenditures and to give a reasonable fee structure like Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).

He gave these arguments on behalf of Beacon House School System before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh on petitions challenging recently introduced Punjab Private Educational Institutions Ordinance, 2015.

He said the Punjab government passed an ordinance at the time when local bodies’ elections were being held in different areas of the province, and made the private schools bound not to increase the fees. The private schools, under the said ordinance, were also forced to pay back to the students what they had charged from last one year.

“Private Schools are providing quality of education and if one cannot afford they should go to other affordable schools,” said Mr Hamid, adding that it was discriminatory as the Punjab government had Rs3b budget for Daanish Schools.

“Every person has the right to run business of his choice and the state cannot interfere into his right,” he further said.

“The private schools also pay tax to the state. In UK and many other developed countries, the private school system has been provided with facilities by the governments, so that they could provide quality of education to the children,” said the lawyer.

He added the private schools in Pakistan were offering scholarships to their students and if such unlawful restrictions would be put on them then how they could provide quality of education here.

The ordinance, he argued, was contrary to the fundamental rights of the citizens as it did not include the whole education system; it only bounds the private schools which is discriminatory.

At this, Justice Sheikh asked the law officer about fee structure at public schools, however, the law officer sought more time for arguments.

The court observed that the matter of education was of great public interest and the court will hold proceedings of the case on daily basis. The court directed the law officer to submit fee structure of the public schools and adjourned further hearing for Thursday (today).

MPA’s appointment as LDDB CEO challenged: A writ petition yesterday was filed in the Lahore High Court challenging appointment of PML-N MPA Saira Iftikhar as Chief Executive Officer of Livestock Dairy Development Board.

Ghulam Murtaza, a citizen, had filed the petition and pointed out that the Board of Directors had power to appoint Chief Executive Officer. He said the CEO should be from the officers of the board but the government of Punjab violated this law and made appointment purely on political grounds.

Therefore, the appointment of Saira Iftikhar was illegal and unlawful, he submitted. The petitioner pleaded the court to set aside appointment of MPA Saira Iftikhar.

After hearing initial arguments, Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan of the LHC sought reply from the Punjab government and adjourned further hearing for three weeks.