Supreme Court of India directs Government of Tamilnadu to enforce the High Court judgment within a period of 10 days

Appeals have been preferred against the judgment and order dated 18.7.2011 of the High Court of Judicature at Madras in Writ Petition Nos.12882, 12890, 13019, 13037, 13038, 13227, 13293, 13296, 13345, 13381, 13390, 13547 of 2011 and W.P.(M.D.) No.6143/2011 whereby the High Court has struck down Section 3 of The Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education (Amendment) Act, 2011 (hereinafter called the Amendment Act 2011) and issued directions to the State Authorities to implement the provisions of The Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act, 2010 (hereinafter called the Act 2010), i.e. to implement the common syllabus, distribute the textbooks printed under the uniform system of education and commence the classes on or before 22.7.2011. The Contempt Petitions have been filed for non-implementing the directions given by this Court vide order dated 14.6.2011.

A three-Judge Bench of Justice J.M. Panchal, Justice Deepak Misra and Justice B.S. Chauhan dismissed a batch of appeals filed by the Tamil Nadu government and on behalf of association of matriculation schools, and impleadment application by the Tamil Nadu Anaithu Asiriyar Munnetra Peravai in support of the State challenging the Madras High Court judgment.

The Bench upheld the High Court's decision declaring unconstitutional the amendment made to the Tamil Nadu Uniform System of School Education Act to defer implementation of the USSE and gave the following 25 reasons why the impugned judgment should be sustained.

(i) The Act 2010 was enacted to enforce the uniform education system in the State of Tamil Nadu in order to impart quality education to all children, without any discrimination on the ground of their economic, social or cultural background.

(ii) The Act itself provided for its commencement giving the academic years though, in phased programme i.e. for Standards I to VI from the academic year 2010-2011; and for other Standards from academic year 2011-2012, thus, enforcement was not dependent on any further notification.

(iii) The validity of the Act was challenged by various persons/institutions and societies, parents of the students, but mainly by private schools organisations, opposing the common education system in the entire State. The writ petitions were dismissed upholding the validity of the Act. However, few provisions, particularly, the provisions of Sections 11, 12 and 14 were struck down by the High Court vide judgment and order dated 30.4.2010. The said judgment of the High Court was duly approved by a speaking order of this Court dated 10.9.2010. Certain directions had been given in the said judgment by the High Court which could have been complied with by issuing executive directions. Moreover, directions issued by the High Court could be

complied with even by changing the Schedule as provided in the judgment dated 30.4.2010 itself.

(iv) Section 18 of the Act 2010 itself enabled the Government to issue any executive direction to remove any difficulty to enforce the statutory provisions of the Act 2010. The Act 2010 itself provided for an adequate residuary power with the government to remove any difficulty in enforcement of the Act 2010, by issuing an administrative order.

(v) Justification pleaded by the State that Amendment Act 2011 was brought to avoid contempt proceedings as the directions issued by the High Court could not be complied with, is totally a misconceived idea and not worth acceptance.

(vi) The new government took over on 16.5.2011 and immediately thereafter, the Government received representations from various private schools/organizations on 17th/18th May, 2011 to scrap the uniform education system. As most of these representations were made by the societies/organisations who had earlier challenged the validity of the Act 2010 and met their waterloo in the hierarchy of the courts, such representations were, in fact, not even maintainable and, thus could not have been entertained by the Government.

(vii) Before the first Cabinet meeting of the new Government on 22.5.2011, i.e. on 21.5.2011, tenders were invited to publish the books under the old education system. It shows that there had been a predetermined political decision to scrap the Act 2010. The Cabinet on 22.5.2011 had taken a decision to do away with the Act 2010 and brought the Ordinance for that purpose.

(viii) There was no material before the Government on the basis of which, the decision not to implement the Act 2010 could be taken as admittedly the Expert Committee had not done any exercise of reviewing the syllabus and textbooks till then.

(ix) The validity of the said decision was challenged by parents and teachers and various other organisations before the High Court and interim orders were passed. It was at that stage that the Bill was introduced in the House on 7.6.2011 and the Amendment Act was passed and enforced with retrospective effect i.e. from 22.5.2011, the date of the decision of the Cabinet in this regard.

(x) The interim orders passed by the High Court were challenged before this Court and the appeals were disposed of by this court vide judgment and order dated 14.6.2011, issuing large number of directions including constitution of the Expert Committee which would find out ways and means to enforce the common education system.

(xi) The Secretary of School Education Department had filed affidavits before the High Court as well as before this Court pointing out that the Amendment Act 2011 was necessary in view of the fact that the Act 2010 was illegal and unconstitutional. However, the Secretary of School Education Department was inadvertently made a member of the Expert Committee by this Court.  Though her inclusion in the Committee was totally unwarranted particularly in view of her stand taken before the High Court that the Act 2010 was unconstitutional and illegal.

 (xii) The Secretary, to the Govt. of Tamil Nadu School Education Department, who had been entrusted the responsibility to plead on behalf of the State, herself had approved the textbooks and fixed the prices for those books of Standards VIIIth, IXth and Xth vide G.O. dated 9.5.2011.

(xiii) The members of the Expert Committee did not reject the text books and syllabus in toto, however, pointed out certain discrepancies therein and asked for rectification/improvements of the same.

(xiv) The High Court as well as this Court upheld the validity of the Act 2010. Thus, it was not permissible for the legislature to annul the effect of the said judgments by the Amendment Act 2011, particularly so far as the Ist and VIth Standards are concerned. The list of approved textbooks had been published and made known to all concerned. Thus, the Act 2010 stood completely implemented so far these Standards were concerned.

(xv) The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act 2011 clearly stipulated that legislature intended to find out a better system of school education. Thus, the object has been to repeal the Act 2010.

(xvi) The legislature is competent to enact the revalidation Act under certain circumstances, where the statutory provisions are struck down by the court, fundamentally altering the conditions on which such a decision is based, but the legislature cannot enact, as has been enacted herein, an invalidation Act, rendering a statute nugatory.

(xvii) The School Education Department of Tamil Nadu on 24.2.2011 called for private publishers to come out with the textbooks based on common education system, and submit for clearance by the Department by 5.4.2011, as taken note of by the High Court in its order dated 10.6.2011. Thus, in such a fact-situation, it was not permissible for the State to revert back to the old system at this advanced stage.

(xviii) Most of the other directions given by the High Court on 30.4.2010, stood complied with. The DTERT had been appointed as Academic Authority as required under Section 29 of the Act 2009, vide G.O. dated 27.7.2010.

(xix) The material produced by the respondents before this Court reveal that norms had been made known and the NCF 2005 was also implemented by issuing Tamil Nadu Curriculum 2009.

(xx) The issue of repugnancy of the Act 2010 with the Act 2009 merely remains an academic issue as most of the discrepancies stood removed. Even if something remains to be done, it can be cured even now, however, such a minor issue could not be a good ground for putting the Act 2010 under suspended animation for an indefinite period on uncertain terms.

(xxi) Undoubtedly, there had been a few instances of portraying the personality by the leader of political party earlier in power, i.e. personal glorification, self publicity and promotion of his own cult and philosophy, which could build his political image and influence the young students, particularly, in the books of primary classes. Such objectionable material, if any, could be deleted, rather than putting the operation of the Act 2010 in abeyance for indefinite period.

(xxii) As early as in April 2011, textbooks for Xth Standard were posted in the official website of School Education Department and many students downloaded the same and started study of the same as the students, parents and teachers had been under the impression that for Standards II to V and VII to X, common education system would definitely be implemented from academic year 2011-12. Such pious hope of so many stakeholders could not be betrayed. Rolling back the Act 2010 at this belated stage and withdrawal thereof even for Standard I and VI would be unjust, iniquitous and unfair to all concerned.

(xxiii) The Amendment Act 2011, in fact, has the effect of bringing back the effect of Section 14 of the Act 2010 which had been declared ultra vires by the High Court for the reason that the Board could not be given binding directions by the State Government.

(xxiv) Even if a very few schools could not exercise their choice of multiple text books, it could not be a ground of scrapping the Act 2010. Steps should have been taken to remove the discrepancy.

(xxv) Passing the Act 2011, amounts to nullify the effect of the High Court and this Court’s judgments and such an act simply tantamounts to subversive of law.


This News is with an attachment file.