KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) warned education authorities on Monday about the issuance of show-cause notices to them if they failed to implement court orders regarding the security of private educational institutes, which face threats of terrorist attacks.
A division bench, headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, gave this warning to the education secretary as he failed to implement the court’s repeated directives for protecting private schools and colleges since the attack on the students of Army Public School in Peshawar in December last year.
The private schools are charging heavy fees in the name of security,” remarked the two judges. “Private schools have become a business only to fill their pockets, they added, while hearing a contempt application against the provincial home and education authorities for their failure to provide adequate security to private educational institutes.
Advocate Javed Iqbal Burki, a human rights activist along with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, had moved the petition to charge the authorities with contempt.
Burki recalled that the SHC’s division bench order, dated May 25, when the judges had ordered a survey to pinpoint which schools are vulnerable and the provision of adequate security arrangements by the provincial government. The bench had further directed the authorities concerned to submit a compliance report within four weeks.
The applicant claimed that no report was filed despite the lapse of four weeks. Burki recalled that the court had, on July 27, granted an additional two weeks to the authorities for compliance of the May 25 order.
Through this order, specific directions were given that the chief secretary should submit a compliance report within two weeks. Apart from this, he was also directed to file comments on a contempt application, filed by the petitioners. “No such comments were filed,” he added.
The court was informed that the education secretary had, on August 27, filed a so-called compliance report on behalf of the chief secretary. He alleged that this is a clear violation, subversion and a blatant attempt to undermine the order, dated July 27, which clearly ordered the chief secretary to submit a compliance report.
“It is, therefore, obvious and apparent that by not submitting a report the chief secretary has violated and deliberately disregarded the orders dated May 25 and July 27,” the applicant alleged.
Burki had claimed that a bare perusal of the report clearly showed that no compliance of the courts two orders had been done, inter-alia, because no survey was conducted and no information was submitted whether or not the burden of the additional security had been passed onto the students.
Furthermore, most of the documents attached to the compliance report pre-date the petition and are dated as far back as 2009.
During Monday’s proceedings, the judges took up the compliance report filed by the education secretary. The report stated that an amount of Rs7.64 billion has been allocated for the purpose of renovations and security of schools that face security threats. The secretary added that a survey report of Sindh’s 18 districts had been prepared.
The two judges expressed, however, their dissatisfaction over the education secretary’s report. They ordered the education secretary and others to take practical steps towards security of Sindh’s schools.
The bench ordered the authorities to implement its earlier directives till October 8 and submit a detailed compliance report. “In case the directives are not complied with, the court would issue show-cause notices to all those concerned and if they are found responsible for non-compliance their suspension may be ordered,” warned the bench, fixing the next hearing on October 20.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2015.