“Even the expert committee has not said that it cannot be implemented”

In scrapping the Uniform System of School Education (USSE) soon after coming to power, lakhs of students have been taken for a ride by the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu on flimsy grounds, argued senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Making his submissions before a three-judge Bench comprising Justice J.M. Panchal, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan, the senior counsel said the Cabinet decision on May 22 to amend the Tamil Nadu USSE Act, 2010 was taken without any material. It was done only because the USSE was introduced by the previous DMK government.

Arguing for a parent, the counsel said the petitioner was aggrieved that for flimsy reasons lakhs of students had been taken for a ride. The petitioner was so perturbed that this government did not like even the poems of saint Tiruvalluvar or his photograph.

Mr. Krishnamani submitted that in the earlier textbooks beneath the photograph of saint Tiruvalluvar, three couplets were written, highlighting the poet's philosophy.

These verses and the poet's photograph were blackened by the government in the textbooks by spending Rs.70 lakh, he said and pointed that the attitude seems to be “because you [DMK Government] did it, we [AIADMK government] will undo it.”

Justice Chauhan, in a lighter vein said, “May be removing this could be part of their election manifesto.”

Counsel pointed out that even the expert committee in its report had not said that the USSE could not be implemented. It said there was no defect in the subjects for Class 2; for other classes, there was no defect in Maths and Tamil and some minor deficiencies were there in Science, Social Science and English, which could be rectified.

He said there was no reason to discard a system for some defects, particularly when the government had spent Rs. 200 crore and had printed nine crore books.

Senior counsel R. Viduthalai, appearing for a parent, drew the court's attention to the fact that the terms of reference of the expert committee was not in consonance with the directions of the Supreme Court order dated June 14. He said the Education Secretary, who had earlier filed an affidavit justifying the amendment made to the Act, was made a member of the committee and the committee's report was her individual exercise and did not correctly reflect the views of the members.

Senior counsel Basava Prabhu Patil, appearing for another parent, argued that the amendment to the law was a cover-up for the inaction of the executive to implement the directions of the April 30, 2010 judgment of the High Court. To avoid contempt for the default of the executive, this amendment was introduced, he said and no explanation was offered why there was inaction.

He pointed out that after the June 14 order of the Supreme Court, the options available to the State were very limited since the direction was to find ways and means to implement the USSE. This order was wrongly understood to mean a review of the system, which was not permissible and this fact had been correctly analysed in the impugned judgment, he said.

Arguments will continue on Wednesday.