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'An Attempt To Persuade Us To Step Into Prohibited Areas' : Kerala High Court Dismisses Plea Seeking Inclusion Of Law In High School Curriculum

Hannah M Varghese
11 Dec 2021 9:06 AM GMT
An Attempt To Persuade Us To Step Into Prohibited Areas : Kerala High Court Dismisses Plea Seeking Inclusion Of Law In High School Curriculum
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The Kerala High Court last week dismissed a plea seeking to include law as a subject in the curriculum from secondary and higher secondary classes of all schools with a finding that the syllabus was set considering expert opinions. Upon considering the pleadings and the materials made available, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P....

The Kerala High Court last week dismissed a plea seeking to include law as a subject in the curriculum from secondary and higher secondary classes of all schools with a finding that the syllabus was set considering expert opinions. 

Upon considering the pleadings and the materials made available, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly opined: 

"...such a course of action and deep-seated study cannot be undertaken by a Court of law, and the court is not an expert to analyze the issues and the requirements of the community in a larger perspective, and without undertaking any such studies through experts, no direction can be issued to the Central as well as the State Governments to frame a policy in a particular manner...the petitioner is attempting to persuade this Court to step into unwanted and prohibited areas, enjoyed by the law-making agencies of the respective Governments."

The Court was considering a Public Interest Litigation filed by a practising lawyer seeking a direction to the  Centre, Ministry of Education (MoE), CBSE, ICSE, Secretary of State Department of General Education and the Chairman of SCERT to include Law as a subject in the curriculum of all schools in Kerala, preferably from 8th standard onwards.

According to the petitioner, irrespective of their social, educational or financial standing, Indians are hopelessly ignorant of the law, which renders their lives miserable in every sphere of their day-to-day activities. It was also argued that the worst casualty was the marginalised downtrodden, who are often subjected to violations of their basic human rights.

The sole question that emerged for consideration was whether any such positive direction as is sought for could be granted by the Court exercising the discretionary power conferred under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. 

Primary, the Bench found that in the field of education, the syllabus for imparting education is prescribed by various educational agencies, taking into account the opinions extended by the experts, and other studies carried out in a well-defined manner to achieve targets and inculcate values among the students.

The Court opined that under Article 226, it cannot undertake any such studies and issue a direction to the appropriate educational agency to include Law as a subject in the curriculum of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.

Moreover, it was noted that to include a subject in the curriculum, there should be an in-depth study as to the manner in which a particular course is to be included in the curriculum. The bench also took the view that its interference may not be warranted since the State and its agencies are undertaking such aspects based on policies formulated from time to time taking into account various factors.

"Law is a vast subject and all of a sudden, the court cannot direct that the Law should be included as a  curriculum in the educational programmes, such as CBSE, ICSE, State syllabuses etc."

Further, the Judges opined that it was well settled in law that the discretionary power conferred under Article 226 of the Constitution of India has to be exercised by the Constitutional courts, bearing in mind the imperative aspect that there is clear segregation made under the Constitution of India in regard to the power enjoyed by the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

"It goes without saying, legislation is an absolute domain of the parliament and the State legislatures, and therefore, without adequate reasons, a writ court cannot step into the shoes of the legislature and issue directions, which if done, would be nothing but a clear encroachment into a prohibited domain transgressing its jurisdiction, and thereby upset and topple the constitutional framework envisioned by the framers of the Constitution of India." 

Moreover, the Supreme Court in Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India & Ors [ W.P.(C) No. 599/2020] had considered a similar plea and had declined to grant relief in the same. 

As such, the writ petition was dismissed. 

Advocates R. Sivadasan and C.K. Anwar appeared for the petitioner while Senior Government Pleader Sri. K. P. Harish appeared for the State in the matter.

Case Title: Vinod Mathew Wilson v. Union of India

Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment


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