The Madras High Court on Monday struck down an amendment to the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act, introduced by the AIADMK government to defer implementation of the ‘samacheer system,' as unconstitutional and ultra vires Art.14 of the Constitution.
Allowing appeals challenging the amendment, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, directed the State to forthwith distribute textbooks printed under the ‘samacheer' education to enable teachers to commence classes. Such distribution should be completed by July 22.
In terms of the recommendations made by individual members of the committee constituted pursuant to the Supreme Court's direction last month, the syllabus and textbooks should be reviewed and objectionable portions deleted. The material or portions which are required to be included as per the panel's suggestions may be added and supplied to students as an additional booklet within a reasonable time, three months.
The State should notify the approved textbooks from among the textbooks already stated to have been submitted to the government by July 22.
Soon after the High Court's verdict, Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan said the Tamil Nadu government would go in appeal to the Supreme Court. In its preface to the order, the Bench observed, “About one crore twenty three lakh schoolchildren of Standards I to X in the State of Tamil Nadu are without any textbooks and syllabus, and along with their parents, they are in a dilemma as to whether the Uniform Syllabus which was to commence as per the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act, 2010, would be postponed because of the amendment brought in the Act by the new government immediately after coming to power, and also as to whether the textbooks as per the new syllabus got printed and made ready by spending about 200 crore rupees of public money by the erstwhile government would be destroyed or disposed of.”
The court said it had no hesitation to hold that if the impugned amendment was allowed, the impact on the education system and over one crore students would be tremendous and result in far-reaching consequences. The State had exceeded in its powers in bringing the amendment Act to postpone an enactment which had already been implemented.
An amending Act, which had the effect of repeal of the parent legislation under the guise of postponement of its implementation, when in fact the parent Act had already been implemented, though partially, should be held to be an arbitrary piece of legislation.
The Bench observed that the conclusion given in the final report appeared to be not the true reflection of individual comments of the committee members, though they had given individual letters that the report contained their suggestions.
It concluded its judgment observing, “We hope and trust that every endeavour shall be made by the State to implement the Uniform System of Education and achieve excellence, taking note that the children of today are the future of our country.”