Judicial process not an answer to every social ill: SC [Read Judgment]

Judicial process not an answer to every social ill: SC [Read Judgment]


SC dismissed a PIL for the inclusion of moral science as a compulsory subject in the syllabus of school education.

The jurisdiction of Court under Article 32 is not a panacea for all ills but a remedy for the violation of fundamental rights, said the Court. 


Supreme Court of India Today has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed by Mrs Santosh Singh, an Advocate-on-record, seeking a direction for the inclusion of moral science as a compulsory subject in the syllabus of school education from classes I to XII “in order to inculcate moral values and nurture national character in the national interest”. The Bench comprising of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Dr.DY Chandrachud held that every good that is perceived to be in the interest of society cannot be mandated by the court. “Nor is the judicial process an answer to every social ill which a public interest petitioner perceives. A matter such as the present to which a solution does not rest in a legal or constitutional framework is incapable of being dealt with in terms of judicially manageable standards”, the Bench added.

The petitioner stated that she is “deeply distressed with the rapidly degrading moral values in the society touching every aspect of life where making money, anyhow has become the sole motto of society”. The grievance of the petitioner is that the present education system does not inculcate the true purpose of education, which is to produce a good human being. The State, in the submission of the petitioner, is under a constitutional obligation to endeavour to provide educational facilities which inculcate moral values in the course of primary and secondary education. It has been urged that the course curriculum prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (“CBSE”) and the National Policy on Education do not recognise a sufficient status for “moral education”. In the submission of the petitioner, the failure to include moral science as a compulsory subject violates Article 25 of the Constitution which recognises the freedom of conscience and the fundamental right to profess, practice and propagate religion. This in the submission militates against the fundamental duties contained in Article 51A(f) of the Constitution. Impressed by the need to protect the moral fibre of the nation, the petitioner seeks a mandamus for the inclusion of moral science as a compulsory subject in the syllabus of school education from classes I to XII “in order to inculcate moral values and nurture national character in the national interest”. 

CBSE has submitted that in order to facilitate the achievement of these objects, it has adopted concrete measures including a modified scheme of assessment with attitude and values. In 2009, CBSE strengthened the scheme of assessment for classes IX and X by emphasising co-scholastic areas of life-skills, attitudes and values, sports and games as well as co-curricular activities. The Board has specifically focused on Article 51A of the Constitution in its effort to inculcate democratic values. Besides introducing a modified scheme of assessment with attitude and values, CBSE has introduced value based questions in the Summative Assessment –II in classes IX and X and in the year end examination for classes XI and XII from the year 2012-2013. The Board has adopted an interdisciplinary approach and decided to assess students with approximately a five per cent weightage in each subject at the above Summative Assessments through questions which have been integrated with the content of the subject and analysed on the basis of the values it reflects.

According to the Bench CBSE has specifically focused on Article 51A of the Constitution as these values are counted in the performance of students. Schools are bound to inculcate them by conducting curricular, cross-curricular group activities and projects.

Purpose of Education

Justice Chandrachud who wrote the Judgment said that the purpose of education is to engender in the young, a spirit of enquiry, a desire for knowledge and a sense of values.

“Among those values are the fundamental values on which our constitutional core is founded: liberty, equality and the dignity of each individual. The purpose of education also includes the creation of responsible and informed citizens conscious both of their rights and of their duties to others. Education is an important instrument towards the development of the individual as indeed, it is a vital instrument in nation building. Technology has effaced conventional barriers and the world has become a globally networked community of information ideas. The challenges which confront the system of education have evolved rapidly, perhaps too rapidly for our educational system to develop pragmatic solutions to meet them”, the Court added. 

Morality is only one element in the composition of values that a just society must pursue

The Bench was of the opinion that morality is one and, however important it may sound to some, it still is only one element in the composition of values that a just society must pursue.

“There are other equally significant values which a democratic society may wish for education to impart to its young. Among those is the acceptance of a plurality and diversity of ideas, images and faiths which unfortunately faces global threats. Then again, equally important is the need to foster tolerance of those who hold radically differing views, empathy for those whom the economic and social milieu has cast away to the margins, a sense of compassion and a realisation of the innate humanity which dwells in each human being. Value based education must enable our young to be aware of the horrible consequences of prejudice, hate and discrimination that continue to threaten people and societies the world over. Morality as a defining concept of spreading values may run the risk of being dangerously one sided, exposing young citizens to the same dogma which those who decry the creed of materialism seek to change. Moreover, morality itself is a notion which has varying hues”, held the Court

Article 32 is not a panacea for all ills

Explaining the limitations of the Supreme Court in invoking Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the Bench held that the jurisdiction of Court under Article 32 is not a panacea for all ills but a remedy for the violation of fundamental rights. The remedies for such perceived grievances as the petitioner has about the dominant presence of materialism must lie elsewhere and it is for those who have the competence and the constitutional duty to lay down and implement educational policies to deal with such problems.

Dismissing the Petition, the Bench held as follows:

“The court must necessarily abide the parameters which govern a nuanced exercise of judicial power. Hence, where an effort is made to bring issues of governance before the court, the basic touch stone on which the invocation of jurisdiction must rest is whether the issue can be addressed within the framework of law or the Constitution. Matters of policy are entrusted to the executive arm of the State. The court is concerned with the preservation of the rule of law. This petition is illustrative of matters which lie beyond the province of judicial review.Whether children pursuing their education from classes I to XII should be saddled with a separate course of moral science is not for the court to decide. Whether a value based educational system would best be subserved by including a separate subject on moral science or whether value based teaching should traverse the entire gamut of a prescribed curriculum is a matter which cannot be resolved by applying settled norms of judicial review. These are matters which cannot be determined in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the court under Article 32,said the Bench.

Read the Judgment here.