Supreme Court rejects plea for single school board

Supreme Court of India. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Six years apart, the Supreme Court has come up with self-contradictory views on common syllabus and curriculum in schools.

In 2011, a three-judge Bench led by Justice J.M. Panchal, in an appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu government, had held that a common syllabus, especially for children aged between six and 14, would achieve the “code of common culture”.

The judgment had even viewed the idea of a common syllabus as a precursor to the Uniform Civil Code and an antidote to fanaticism and divisiveness.

On December 8, 2017, a three-judge Bench led by the Chief Justice dismissed a petition filed by primary school teacher Neeta Upadhyay for ‘one nation, one education board’ to end disparity in knowledge dissemination during the formative years of a child.

Ms. Upadhyay, represented by senior advocate Sajan Poovayya and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, said the current education under multiple boards did not provide equal opportunity to all. The fundamental right to free and compulsory education under Article 21A includes a common education system where the “rich and the poor are educated under one roof”.

“Otherwise, chasm that has been created between rich and poor, reign of terror that has set in, events of looting and snatching that have started and crime against women that has taken the form of open threats will continue to rise and expand,” Ms. Upadhyay argued.

The CJI Bench’s cursory dismissal of Ms. Upadhyay’s plea is starkly antithetical to the very tenets of the 2011 judgment by the Panchal Bench in the Tamil Nadu and Others versus K. Shyam Sunder and Others.

The judgment had held that the “right of a child should not be restricted only to free and compulsory education, but should be extended to have quality education without any discrimination on the ground of their economic, social and cultural background”.

“Separate education facilities are inherently unequal and violate the doctrine of equality,” Justice B.S. Chauhan, who authored the judgment for the Court, had referred to the iconic U.S. case of Brown versus Board of Education, which held that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

The Court had held that a “uniform education system would achieve the code of common culture, removal of disparity, depletion of discriminatory values in human relations”.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 7:36:06 AM |

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