SC directs CDA not to seal private schools operating in residential sectors

Zubair Qureshi

Supreme Court on Thursday while hearing a petition by private schools directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) not to seal those private schools that are operating in the residential areas and fall within non-forming use of commercial properties.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing the private schools’ petition. In their petition private schools requested the court’s intervention against CDA’s orders of moving them outside the residential areas.
Private schools’ counsel Akhlaq Awan said the civic body was comparing schools with restaurants and guest houses which was not justified. A member of the bench remarked that schools were making huge money in the name of education and they are running ‘businesses’ not providing education as mission.
Additional Attorney General also supported the private schools’ plea saying his own children were going to private school and shifting them out of the residential areas would be disastrous. On this Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said when a school is set up adjacent to a house, life of the residents becomes miserable. He wondered why schools were opening in the residential areas.
Private schools’ counsel requested the court to bar CDA from sealing the schools. First CDA should provide us the alternate place to set up our schools, he said. So far, the civic body has sealed 52 schools he said. To the court’s query, he said more than 450,000 students were enrolled in private schools and sealing of schools would affect children’s education.
After hearing the arguments, the apex court stopped CDA from sealing private schools. It may be mentioned here that CDA had sealed 53 schools out of more than 400 which are operating in the residential areas of Islamabad. These schools were closed during the summer vacations and are located in Sectors F-6, F-7, F-8, G-6 and I-8.
However, it had to temporarily stop the action as private schools moved Islamabad High Court against CDA with the plea that it had not served them with prior notice.
After the IHC order the CDA had stopped its operation. Meanwhile, private schools approached Supreme Court and got the relief.
Private School Association President Zofran Elahi, also attended Supreme Court’s Thursday hearing and while talking to media outside the court, he 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.

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