The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to implement Samacheer Kalvi (Uniform System of School Education) for classes 2 to 5 and 7 to 10 in ten days.
A three-Judge Bench of Justice J.M. Panchal, Justice Deepak Misra and Justice B.S. Chauhan dismissed a batch of appeals filed by the Tamil Nadu government and on behalf of association of matriculation schools, and impleadment application by the Tamil Nadu Anaithu Asiriyar Munnetra Peravai in support of the State challenging the Madras High Court judgment.
The Bench upheld the High Court's decision declaring unconstitutional the amendment made to the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act to defer implementation of the USSE and gave 25 reasons why the impugned judgment should be sustained.
Writing the judgment, Justice Chauhan pointed out that even before the first Cabinet meeting of the new Government on May 22, i.e. on May 21, tenders were invited to publish the books under the old education system. “It shows that there had been a predetermined political decision to scrap the Act 2010. There was no material before the Government on the basis of which the decision not to implement the Act 2010 could be taken as admittedly the Expert Committee had not done any exercise of reviewing the syllabus and textbooks till then,” the Bench said.
“Undoubtedly, there had been a few instances of portraying the personality by the leader of political party [M. Karunanidhi] earlier in power, i.e. personal glorification, self publicity and promotion of his own cult and philosophy, which could build his political image and influence the young students, particularly in the books of primary classes. Such objectionable material, if any, could be deleted, rather than putting the operation of the Act 2010 in abeyance for indefinite period.”
The Bench pointed out that the Act 2010 was enacted to enforce the uniform education system in the State of Tamil Nadu to impart quality education to all children, without any discrimination on the ground of their economic, social or cultural background.
The Act itself provided for its commencement, giving the academic years though in a phased programme i.e. for Standards I to VI from the academic year 2010-2011 and for other Standards from academic year 2011-2012. Thus, enforcement was not dependent on any further notification.
It said, “The justification pleaded by the State that the Amendment Act 2011 was brought to avoid contempt proceedings, as the directions issued by the High Court [in the earlier April 2010 judgment], could not be complied with is totally a misconceived idea and not worth acceptance. The said judgment of the High Court was duly approved by a speaking order of this court dated September 10, 2010.”
The Bench said, “The High Court as well as this court upheld the validity of the Act 2010. Thus, it was not permissible for the legislature to annul the effect of the said judgments by the Amendment Act 2011, particularly so far as I and VI Standards are concerned. The list of approved textbooks had been published and made known to all concerned. Thus, the Act 2010 stood completely implemented so far these standards were concerned.”
It pointed out that certain directions had been given in the said judgment by the High Court which could have been complied with by issuing executive directions. Moreover, directions issued by the High Court could be complied with even by changing the Schedule as provided in the judgment dated April 30, 2010 itself.
Further, it said Section 18 of the Act 2010 itself enabled the Government to issue any executive direction to remove any difficulty to enforce the statutory provisions of the Act 2010.
The Act 2010 itself provided for an adequate residuary power with the government to remove any difficulty in enforcement of the Act 2010, by issuing an administrative order.
Quality of textbooks
On the government's stand that various representations were received about the poor quality of textbooks, the Bench pointed out that the new government took over on May 16 and immediately thereafter, the Government received representations from various private schools/organisations on May 17/18 to scrap the USSE.
“As most of these representations were made by the societies/organisations who had earlier challenged the validity of the Act 2010 and met their Waterloo in the hierarchy of the courts, such representations were, in fact, not even maintainable and, thus could not have been entertained by the Government.”