The Madras High Court on Friday said that no material had been produced to show that a review was done by any expert committee before passing the Bill to amend Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act.
In its order, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, said that on the contrary, it had been alleged, and not denied by the authorities, that the first meeting of the Cabinet was held on May 22 for an hour. Within that short time, several issues, including ‘Samacheer Kalvi', were discussed. The notification was issued the next day calling for tenders to print textbooks under the old syllabus.
Though in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the amending Act, it had been stated that a detailed review of the syllabus under the Samacheer scheme was undertaken, no material had been placed before the court.
It would be rather impossible for any expert committee to conduct a review of the entire syllabus and textbooks for Standards I to X within one day after the Cabinet first met. The details as to the manner in which the review was done were not forthcoming.
Prima facie, this showed that the government's action to switch back to the old syllabus (prior to the Samacheer syllabus) was not based on the report of any expert committee.
It was stated that the government proposed to appoint a high-power panel to improve the quality of education.
It was manifest that as on date no such committee had been constituted. “Thus, it is clear that action appears to have been done in haste.”
The court said it was prima facie satisfied that the amending Act in effect repealed, or indefinitely put on hold, the implementation of the parent Act, which had already been implemented for Standards I and VI from academic year 2010-11.
To revert to the position prior to 2010-11 would amount to violating the Division Bench's decision and have the effect of repealing the parent Act. Such reversion should not be permitted as it would not be in students' welfare.
The judges said as regards Standards II to V and VII to X, it was stated that substantial work had been done for introducing the new syllabus and printing the textbooks.
They had already been made available to students by publishing it on the official website.
“Therefore, we are of the firm view that if the amending Act is to be given effect to, it will result in unsettling various issues and the interest of children will be jeopardised.”
While considering the balance of convenience, the court had to bear in mind the paramount consideration should be students' welfare.
The validity of the impugned amending Act could be done only after the State filed its counter to the writ petitions.