Capital Development Authority (CDA) is all set to seal private schools operating in the residential areas of the federal capital. CDA had sealed 59 of the total 367 schools for operating in residential areas, however, it had to allow them to reopen and re-start their business following a court order. They (the school owners) had filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and secured a temporary relief as the court directed the CDA to de-seal the schools.
After hearing the petition filed by the Private School Association, Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC observed that the sole grievance of the petitioner was that they were not served a prior notice before sealing the premises. “Since the regulations 2.17.5 of Building Control Regulations 2005 of Capital Development Authority provides for furnishing of notice prior to sealing of premises therefore respondents have not complied with the same. The act of sealing of premises by the CDA is not in accordance with the aforementioned Regulations hence without lawful authority and is set aside,” says the judgment.
However, the Damocles sword is still hanging over the future of private schools which are operating in residential areas in violations of CDA bylaws as the court ruled that the civic agency shall be at liberty to take action against members of the association for non-conforming use. After receiving the court orders, a large number of private school owners have visited the CDA headquarters and got the keys of their locked schools. According to a senior official of the CDA, since the court has decided in favour of the private school owners, we have given keys of the locked and sealed schools to around 30 operators of schools today. We will ensure de-sealing of all the 59 schools.
Private School Association President Zofran Elahi, also visited the CDA headquarters, and talking to media said their association had got a temporary relief. “We will continue our efforts in courts and other forums to resolve this issue amicably. Instead of sealing the schools, the CDA should provide us an alternate place,” he said.
On the contrary, the CDA team is of the view that IHC had ordered the civic agency to take steps to move the private schools out of the residential areas.
They said in its latest judgment, the IHC had not barred the CDA from sealing schools but ordered for de-sealing of schools on the ground that no prior notice had been issued to their owners before sealing them. “Now, we will issue fresh 15-day notices to the owners to remove the non-conforming use and on the expiry of the deadline we will go for sealing of the properties,” said an official.