Friday, September 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Curriculum not saffron: SC

“We are happy with the judgment and feel a greater responsibility as the books that have been held up because of the litigation and controversy can now be made available to the students.’’ 
— NCERT Director J.S. Rajput

New Delhi, September 12
The Supreme Court today categorically held that there was no attempt to saffronise the school syllabus in the new National Curriculum Framework for Secondary Education (NCFSE) - 2002 and directed its immediate implementation. Rejecting a PIL filed by Aruna Roy and other eminent educationists, a three-judge Bench by 2:1 majority held that “non-consultation with the Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE) cannot be held as the ground for setting aside the national curriculum.”

“Saffronisation of education was a fight against distortion. The distortions being indulged in by the present government are an infringement on the constitutional framework which forges secularism.’’ 
— CPM leader Brinda Karat

The three Judges gave separate judgements in which Mr Justices M. B. Shah and D. M. Dharmadhikari concurred.

However, Mr Justice H. K. Sema, though agreed that non-consultation of CABE could not be a ground for setting aside the NCFSE, directed the Central Government to immediately reconstitute CABE and seek its views on the new curriculum.

Both Mr Justices Shah and Dharmadhikari were categorical in their finding that the teaching of the essence of all religions, as was sought to be done in the NCFSE, could not be equated with the imparting of religious instructions.

Holding CABE to be a non-statutory body and that its consultation for framing the new syllabus was not mandatory, Mr Justice Shah said the court was not to decide why CABE was not reconstituted. “It is for the government and Parliament to decide whether to reconstitute or to do away with the body,” Mr Justice Dharmadhikari said.

Rejecting the contention of the petitioners that the syllabus tried to insert religious teachings, Mr Justice Shah said, “NCFSE nowhere talks of imparting religious education.”

The petitioners had accused the government of revising the syllabi for school education to orient the same “towards the promotion of the political and religious ideology in favour to some sections of the government”.

The respondents had also deleted portions of existing text books without the permission of the authors concerned wherever the portion was found to be opposed to the so called ‘religious sentiments’ of a certain group, they said.

Mr Justice Shah said dogmas and superstitions should not be propagated in the name of religion, he said, adding that there was no harm in teaching the universal values of truth, righteousness and non-violence which was the essence of all religions.

Terming the right to know about religions as a fundamental right of the students, Mr Justice Dharmadhikari said, “Study of religion is not prohibited by the Constitution.

“Any interpretation of Article 28 to deprive the students of the education in religions would be a violation of their fundamental right,” Mr Justice Dharmadhikari added.

However, going into the details of the syllabus, Mr Justice Dharmadhikari said, “We have not found anything in the syllabus which is against the constitution.”

Mr Justice Sema said he agreed with the view of Mr Justice Shah but had reservation about the views expressed regarding CABE. PTI, UNI

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