ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Friday observed if the Punjab government could not run schools, it should close them down.
The CJP, heading a three-member bench, expressed these views during a hearing of the case pertaining to the teachers’ salaries at the Divisional Public School (DPS), Sargodha. The CJP said that it was the duty of the apex court to protect the fundamental rights of the people.
The Supreme Court directed the Punjab chief secretary to resolve the teachers’ salary issue by August 15 and submit a compliance report.During the hearing, the chief justice said that there was a lack of interest in the education sector, and it was the obligation of the chief executive to concentrate on the important sector by framing a uniform policy. Punjab chief secretary to convene a meeting of the board of governors of the schools to disburse pending salaries of the teachers. The court also asked the chief secretary to reach a settlement through which teachers must be given salary since 1994.
The chief secretary, however, told the court that being an autonomous body the Divisional Public School (DPS), Sargodha, was not a public school. He further informed the court that a total of 43 such schools were working in the province with their own resources, and no financial support from the provincial exchequer was allocated them. However, he contended that the board of governors of the DPS was competent to approve any increase in the teachers’ salaries.
The provincial chief secretary further said if the government allocated funds to one divisional school, it would also have to allocate funds for over 100 NGO schools.Turning down the chief secretary’s reply, the CJ observed, “Shut the schools if you can’t raise salaries; If you are helpless, the provincial chief executive would be questioned about the issue.”
The chief justice remarked that the DPS Sargodha teachers were being paid only Rs5,000 a month and had been exploited for the last 19 years which he termed against the law of equity.The chief secretary told the court that no funds were allocated by the Punjab government to pay salaries to DPS teachers; however, he added that financial support had been extended for Baloch students.
Expressing his dismay, the chief justice asked the chief secretary to avoid using the name of Balochistan everywhere saying the Punjab government was not extending special favour to them. The CJ said that constitutionally the provision of education was the primary responsibility of the state.
He remarked there was a lack of interest in the education sector, saying in the contrast it was primary obligation of the provincial chief executive to make policies and to eliminate exploitation.The court adjourned the hearing till August 15.