May 7, 2018
PESHAWAR: A gardener on Wednesday told a higher court that while access to free education was the constitutional right of every citizen of the country, residents of the cantonment in Peshawar were deprived of it.
A two-judge bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), headed by PHC Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Muhammad heard the case filed by Sher Zada, a resident of the Cantonment Board Peshawar (CBP).
Sher, in his petition, stated that he was employed as a gardener and received a monthly salary of Rs20,000. This salary, he said, was too low to meet his daily expenses, including the school fees of his children, which has increased sharply by almost 300 per cent.
He further contended that students are asked to pay as much as Rs10,000 as admission fees.
Salman Fayaz, the counsel for the petitioner, argued that Article 25-A of the Constitution guarantees free and compulsory secondary education as a fundamental right of all citizens and a foremost responsibility of the state.
“It is the responsibility of the government to provide free education,” Fayaz argued, adding that parents are forced to pay heavy taxes for the provision of this right.
“The federal and provincial government should be directed to fulfill their constitutional duties,” the lawyer argued.
The counsel for CBP, Ehsanullah Khalil, concurred that it was the duty of the federal and the provincial government to provide free education to citizens. He pointed out that after the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, it was the provincial government’s responsibility to ensure the provision of free education.
However, Fayaz countered the argument by stating that every authority that collects taxes from its subjects was bound to fulfill this legal and the constitutional right.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the PHC put the federal government on notice, directing DAG Musarat Ullah to reply on the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2018.