School owners challenge COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance in SHC

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to the provincial authorities to submit replies to a petition by owners of private schools challenging the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar directed the official respondents to come up with their response to the petition by the next hearing slated for June 3.

The bench turned down a request by the petitioners to restrain the provincial government from taking any adverse action against them over non-compliance of its directives with regard to a 20 per cent fee cut.

A counsel for the petitioners stated before the judges that the Sindh government has made it mandatory for private schools to charge 80 per cent of the total monthly fee without taking into account the financial impact its decision will have on schools.

He pleaded with the bench to declare the decision of a 20 per cent reduction in school fees void.

On May 15, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail had approved the Corona Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020 to provide relief to the people of the province amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ordinance was sent to the governor after approval of Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for signature.

Under the ordinance, a landlord shall defer or suspend the recovery of rent payments under Rs50,000 and slash by 50 per cent if a rent amount is Rs100,000. It shall not apply in case where the owner is a widow, differently-abled person and senior citizen.

No educational institution shall charge more than 80 per cent of the total monthly fees. No employee or worker shall be terminated or removed as the employers will be bound to pay salary to their employers.

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