Bombay HC Declines To Stay BMC Resolution To Introduce Surya Namaskar, Yoga In Civic Schools [Read Petition]
The Bombay High Court has declined to give a relief of interim stay in a PIL filed by petitioner Masood Ansari, wherein petitioner raised objections to the resolution of the Shiv Sena-BJP controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)/MMC (Mumbai Municipal Corporation) whereby in its proposal No. 826, it plans to implement ‘surya namaskar’ (sun salutation) and yoga as mandatory in all civic schools.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M.S. Sonak declined the relief, observing that ‘surya namaskar’ and yoga are just forms of exercise which are good for a healthy body, and this move by the BMC need not be communalised.
The resolution adopted by the BMC had met with a lot of furore as the opposing parties saw it as an attempt to ‘saffronise’ education.
The petitioner, a respected businessman and a social worker, has raised the following contentions in the PIL against the respondents Viz. State of Maharashtra and Municipal Corporation of Mumbai:
- The BMC/MMC has exceeded its jurisdiction by announcing its implementation to be as mandatory in all civic schools and is malafide, unconstitutional and liable to be quashed. The move would require highly skilled yoga teachers.
- The said field of appointment of teachers is exclusively governed by provisions contained u/s. 23 (1) of the RTE Act, and the "academic authority" has to decide about the qualification for the appointment of such teachers. Whether to include surya namaskar and yoga in the "curriculum and the evaluation procedure", has to be determined by the academic authority and not by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation. The academic authority for the State of Maharashtra has to be specified by the State Government by way of notification, in which, local authority cannot interfere in any manner. This field is expressly governed by the provisions of RTE Act, 2009 and falls within the jurisdiction of Academic Authority. The RTE Act, 2009 being the Central Act shall over-ride the provisions of MMC Act, 1888 and these provisions of RTE Act, 2009 are binding on the Municipal Corporation
- The students taking "elementary education" or "secondary education" in BMC Schools cannot be expected to come with empty stomach from home at the time of prayer for performing ‘surya namaskar’ and Yoga as this could be detrimental to their health.
- Several students belonging to the religion other than Hindu religion may have their different religious orientations and preferences and hence, imposing ‘surya namaskar’ as compulsory on such children would violate fundamental rights of the BMC school children and also seeks to force the children other than Hindu Religion e.g. Muslim, Parsi, Sikh, Christian, Jain including Dalit Community to follow a particular part of Hindu Religion in the name of exercise of ‘surya namaskar’. This causes prejudice.
The Bombay High Court, after perusal, reached the conclusion that the petitioner is unnecessarily communalising a move that was introduced with the welfare of the children in mind as yoga and surya namaskars are good for health. The matter is listed for further hearing after two weeks.
Read the petition here.