Roy and Ors Vs. Union of India and Ors  Insc 582 (12 September 2002)
D.M. Dharmadhikari D.M. Dharmadhikari, J.
carefully gone through the erudite and well considered opinion of learned
Brother M.B. Shah J. I am in respectful agreement with his conclusion but I
would like to add my own reasons. I am in agreement with the view that
education of religions can be imparted even in 'educational institutions' fully
maintained out of State funds.
the education on religion which can be allowed to be imparted in 'educational
institutions fully maintained out of State funds' as mentioned in Clause (1) of
Article 28 of the Constitution has to be education of a nature different from
religious education or religious instructions which can be imparted in
educational institutions maintained by minorities or those 'established under
any endowment or trust' as referred in Clause (2) of Article 28. I have,
therefore, found it necessary to give my own opinion on the important issues
raised on behalf of the petitioners questioning introduction of religious
education in educational institutions fully maintained out of State funds.
to them, it runs counter to the concept of 'secularism' which should guide the
activities of the State in the field of education.
is the basic structure of the Constitution. Clause (1) of Article 28 prohibits
imparting of 'religious instructions' in educational institutions fully
maintained out of State funds. The case of D.A.V.
words "religious instructions" have been held as not prohibiting
education of religions dissociated from "tenets, the rituals, observances,
ceremonies and modes of worship of a particular sect or denomination". The
academic study of the teaching and the philosophy of any great Saint such as Kabir,
Gurunanak and Mahabir was held to be not prohibited by Article 28 (1) of the
distinction, thus, has been made between imparting "religious
instructions" that is teaching of rituals, observances, customs and
traditions and other non-essential observances or modes of worship in religions
and teaching of philosophies of religions with more emphasis on study of
essential moral and spiritual thoughts contained in various religions. There is
a very thin dividing line between imparting of 'religious instructions' and
'study of religions.' Special care has to be taken of avoiding possibility of
imparting 'religious instructions' in the name of 'religious education' or
'Study of Religions'.
English word 'religion' does not fully convey the Indian concept of religion.
Hindus believe in Vedas. The word 'Dharma' has a very wide meaning. One meaning
of it is the 'moral values or ethics' on which the life is naturally regulated.
Dharma or righteousness is elemental and fundamental in all nations, periods
and times. For example truth, love, compassion are human virtues. This is what
Hindu call Sanatan Dharma meaning religion which is immutable, constant,
living, permanent and ever in existence. Religion, in wide sense, therefore, is
those fundamental principles which sustain life and without which the life will
not survive. Rig Veda describes Dharma as Athodharmani Dharayan. In this
concept of religion or Dharma, different faiths, sects and schools of thoughts
merely are different ways of knowing truth which is one. The various sects or
religious groups are understood as Panth or Sampradaya. In Western world
particularly in Britain, religious education has been
understood as nearly identical with the religious instructions. India which is wedded to a secular
philosophy by its constitution; 'Religious education' to distinguish it from
'religious instructions' can mean approaching the many religions of the world
with an attitude of understanding and trying to convey that attitude to children.
This distinction between 'religious instructions' and 'religious education' has
to be maintained while introducing a curriculum of religious education and
implementing it. This would require a constant vigil on the part of those
imparting religious education from primary stage to the higher level otherwise
there is a potent danger of religious education being perverted by educational
authorities whosoever may be in power by imparting in the name of 'religious
education,' 'religious instructions' in which they have faith and belief.
Modern philosopher and educationists particularly those who belong to the
schools of thought which encourage free thinking and an independence of choice
to be given to the children in the matter of inculcating human values and philosophy
based on their individual liking or inclination, are very sceptical about
imparting religious instructions or religious education by traditional methods.
They see that in teaching religions, there is a possibility of indoctrination
or brain-washing of the children and thus, curbing their inquisitiveness and
free thinking in the name of religion.
of children in a particular faith or belief has to be avoided. J. Krishnamurti,
a modern renowned philosopher of India in his book 'Education and the Significance of Life' has sounded a note
of caution in introducing religious education. His caveat, in his words, is as
we call religion is merely organised belief, with its dogmas, rituals,
mysteries and superstitious. Each religion has its own sacred book, its
mediator, its priests and its ways of threatening and holding people. Most of
us have been conditioned to all this, which is considered religious education;
this conditioning sets man against man, it creates antagonism, not only among
the believers, but also against those of other beliefs. Though all religions
assert that they worship God and say that we must love one another, they instil
fear through their doctrines of reward and punishment, and through their
competitive dogmas they perpetuate suspicion and antagonism.
mysteries and rituals are not conducive to a spiritual life. Religious
education in the true sense is to encourage the child to understand his own
relationship to people, to things and to nature. There is no existence without
relationship; and without self-knowledge, all relationship, with the one and
with the many, brings conflict and sorrow. Of course, to explain this fully to
a child is impossible; but if the educator and the parents deeply grasp the
full significance of relationship, then by their attitude, conduct and speech
they will surely be able to convey to the child, without too many words and
explanations, the meaning of a spiritual life.
education, therefore, even if permitted to be imparted should consist of
"understanding the child as he is without imposing upon him an ideal of
what we think he should be". Howsoever highly educated, one may be but
without deep integration of thought and feeling, his life is incomplete,
contradictory and torn with many fears; and as long as education does not
cultivate an integrated outlook on life, it has very little significance.
religion is not a set of beliefs and rituals, hopes and fears; and if we can
allow the child to grow up without these hindering influences, then perhaps, as
he matures, he will begin to inquire into the nature of reality. That is why,
in educating a child, deep insight and understanding are necessary".
religious education is to help the child to be intelligently aware, to discern
for himself the temporary and the real, and to have a disinterested approach to
life; and would it not have more meaning to begin each day at home or at school
with a serious thought, or with a reading that has depth and significance, rather
than mumble some oft-repeated words or phrases. . To educate the student
rightly is to help him to understand the total process of himself; for it is
only that there is integration of the mind and heart in everyday action that
there can be intelligence and inward transformation.
educator is not merely a giver of information; he is one who points the way to
wisdom, to truth. Truth is far more important than the teacher. The search for
truth is religion, and truth is of no country, of no creed, it is not to be
found in any temple, church or mosque.
a search for truth, society soon decays. [Source : 'Education and the
Significance of Life' by J. Krishnamurti] A great philosopher, social reformer
and religious man of our times, Vinoba Bhave who studied all the religions of India and some of other countries has
suggested a balanced approach in the matter of imparting religious education in
pluralistic society wedded to secularism. He finds the best co-ordinating
formula on study of religions in 'Vedas'. He quotes the following lines of Rig
Vedas 'Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanti'. Truth everywhere is same; the devotees
worship it in different forms. The other meaning of this Sanskrit couplet is
"the thought of truth everywhere is the same; we have understood only a
part of it, others have understood the other part of it". Therefore,
according to him, different religious thoughts can be assimilated and synthesised
for creating religious harmony. In the world, different thoughts on
relationship of man with God and nature are to be found in various religions
like Hindus, Buddhists, Parsies, Jains, Yahudies, Islams, Cristians and many
others. These different thoughts influenced crores of people who are following
common factor of all these thoughts should be understood as the ultimate truth.
If we delve deep into these various thoughts we get this knowledge. These words
should inspire the educationists and the people of India in creating a real secular society
in which 'religion' in its wider sense is imbibed and a heart felt respect
develops in people of one religious faith towards people of another religious
lives of Indian people have been enriched by integration of various religions
and that is the strength of this nation. Whatever kind of people came to India either for shelter or as
aggressors, India has tried to accept the best part
of their religions. As a result, composite culture gradually developed in India and enriched the lives of Indians.
happened in India because of capacity of Indians to
assimilate thoughts of different religions. This process should continue for
betterment of multi-religious society which is India.
pluralistic society like India which accepts secularism as the
basic ideology to govern its secular activities, education can include study
based on the 'religious pluralism'. 'Religious pluralism' is opposed to exclusivism
and encourages inclusivism.
in religion has been explained to mean - the view that one particular tradition
alone teaches the truth and constitutes the way to salvation or liberation. The
Christians believe in the words attributed to Jesus in the 'Gospel of John',
"No one can come to the Father, but by me". They also believe as
early as the third century that dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus ('outside
the church, no salvation).
similarly believe that there is only one God and His one messenger 'the
Prophet'. Jews cherish their ethnically exclusive identity as God's chosen
revere Vedas as eternal and absolute and Buddhists have often seen Gautama's
teachings as the Dharma that alone can liberate human beings from illusion and
above kind of perception has led to inclusivist theologies and religious
philosophies that their own tradition presents the final truth and other
traditions are seen as approaches to that final truth.
comprehensive approach to religion which should be inculcated in a society
comprising people of different religions and faiths is described as inclusivism.
In explicit pluralism, the view accepted is that the great world faiths
embodied different perceptions and conceptions of and correspondingly different
responses to, the Real or Ultimate and that within each of them independently
the transformation of human existence from self- centeredness to
reality-centeredness is taking place.
in India which is to be governed by secular
ethos contained in its Constitution and where 'religious instructions' in
institutions of the State are forbidden by Article 28(1), the 'religious
education' which can be permitted, would be education based on 'religious
pluralism'. The experiment is delicate and difficult but if undertaken
sincerely and in good faith for creating peace and harmony in the society is
not to be thwarted on the ground that it is against the concept of 'secularism'
as narrowly understood to mean neutrality of State towards all religions and
bereft of positive approach towards all religions.
religious education permitting 'religious pluralism' having emphasis on inclusivism
in religious education instead of allowing exclusivism can be demonstrated by
can be found instances of religious vision capable of either inclusivist or
pluralist development within each of the word religion although they may not
constitute a central thing.
instances, in the New Testament, it is written that Logos, which became
incarnate as Jesus Christ, was "the light that lightens every man".
Hindu Bhagavadgita the Lord says, "However men may approach me, even so do
I accept them; for, on all sides, whatever path they may choose is mine".
And in the Mahayana stream of Buddhism, the bodhisattva gives himself 'for the
salvation of all beings". In the Quran, a following declaration is found
:- To God belong the East And the West: whithersoever Ye turn, there is the
Presence [or Face] Of God. For God is all pervading, All knowing.
the Muslim Sufi poet Rumi wrote this of the different religious traditions :
"The lamps are different but the light is the same:
comes from beyond".
study of religious pluralism can be articulated in generally acceptable way and
such attempt has to be made particularly in India which time and again has suffered due to religious conflicts and
communal disharmony. What is needed in the education is that the children of
this country should acknowledge the vast range and complexity of differences
apparent in the phenomenology of religion while at the same time they should
understand the major streams of religious experience and thought as embodying
different awarenesses of the one ultimate reality. A wider acceptance of a
pluralist view of the religious life of humanity must involve developments in
the self- understanding of each tradition, a modification of their claims to unique
superiority in the interests of a more universal conception of the presence of
the Real to the human spirit. [See : Comparative Study of Religion contained in
the Encyclopedia of Religion under the heading "Religious Pluralism"
p.331-333] The purpose of making a survey of various thoughts and philosophy of
different religions and the views of different philosophers, educationists and
thinkers is only to show that the majority of them do not advocate ban on
religious education to children from school to college stage. What has been emphasised
is that the religious education imparted to children should be one to make them
aware of various thoughts and philosophies in religions without indoctrinating
them and without curbing their free thinking, right to make choices for
conducting their own life and deciding upon their course of action according to
their individual inclinations. For an all round development of a child, all
educationists feel that mere imparting of information to students to sharpen
their intellect is not enough. Inner qualities of head and heart as also
capacity to regulate their own life and their relation with society should also
be imparted to them for their own and general good of the society as also for
achieving the highest goal of life. The attainment of constitutional ideals is
possible only if side by side with sharpening intellect, moral character of
children, is also developed to make them good citizens.
best this religious pluralism to accord with 'secular thought' of the country
can be achieved by properly selecting the material for inclusion in the text
books for children of different ages and different stages in the education, is
a matter which has to be left to the academicians and educationists. Their
involvement with all dignitaries and with other experts in related fields is
necessary. This exercise has to be undertaken by the Government for which any
direction from the court is neither required and nor can the court assume such
power to encroach on the field of preparation of an educational policy by the
scrutiny of the text books to find out whether they conform to the secular
thought of the country is also to be undertaken by the experts, academicians
and educationists. The members of NCERT should be open to any such dialogue
with the academicians and educationists. On the basis of general consensus,
suitable curriculum, which accords with secularism as understood in wide and
benevolent sense, has to be evolved.
expression 'religious instructions' used in Article 28 (1) has a restricted
meaning. It conveys that teaching of customs, ways of worships, practices or
rituals cannot be allowed in educational institutions wholly maintained out of
States funds. But Article 28 (1) cannot be read as prohibiting study of
different religions existing in India and outside India. If that prohibition is read with
the words "religious instructions", study of philosophy which is
necessarily based on study of religions would be impermissible. That would
amount to denying children a right to understand their own religion and
religions of others, with whom they are living in India and with whom they may like to live
and interact. Study of religions, therefore, is not prohibited by the
Constitution and the constitutional provisions should not be read so, otherwise
the chances of spiritual growth of human-being, which is considered to be the
highest goal of human existence, would be totally frustrated. Any
interpretation of Article 28(1), which negates the fundamental right of a child
or a person to get education of different religions of the country and outside
the country and of his own religion would be destructive of his fundamental
right of receiving information, deriving knowledge and conducting his life on
the basis of philosophy of his liking.
debates in the Constituent Assembly when Article 28 of the Constitution was
being considered are illuminating and helpful in understanding the expression
'religious instruction' used in the said Article. See the following part of the
debates :- Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra : May I put the Hon'ble Member one
question? There is, for instance, an educational institution wholly managed by
the Government, like the Sanskrit College, Calcutta.
the Vedas are taught, Smrithis are taught, the Gita is taught, the Upanishads
are taught. Similary in several parts of Bengal there are Sanskrit Institutions where instructions in these subjects
are given. You provide in article 22(1) that no religious instruction can be
given by an institution wholly maintained out of State funds. These are
absolutely maintained by State funds. My point is, would it be interpreted that
the teaching of Vedas, or Smrithis, or Shastras or Upanishads comes within the
meaning of a religious instruction? In that case all these institutions will
have to be closed down.
The Hon'ble Dr. B. R. Ambedkar : Well, I do not
know exactly the character of the institutions to which my Friend Mr. Maitra
has made reference and it is, therefore, quite difficult for me.
Lakshmi Kanta Maitra : Take for instance the teaching of Gita, Upanishads, the
Vedas and things like that in Government Sanskrit Colleges and schools.
The Hon'ble Dr. B. R. Ambedkar : My own view is
this, that religious instruction is to be distinguished from research or study.
Those are quite different things. Religious instruction means this. For
instance, so far as the Islam religion is concerned, it means that you believe
in one God, that you believe that Pagambar the Prophet is the last Prophet and
so on, in other words, what we call "dogma". A dogma is quite
different from study.
Vice-President : May I interpose for one minute? As Inspector of Colleges for
the Calcutta University, I used to inspect the Sanskrit College, where as Pandit Maitra is aware,
students have to study not only the University course but books outside it in
Sanskrit literature and in fact Sanskrit sacred books, but this was never
regarded as religious instruction; it was regarded as a course in culture.
Lakshmi Kanta Maitra : My point is, this. It is not a question of research. It
is a mere instruction in religion or religious branches of study.
whether lecturing on Gita and Upanishads would be considered as giving
religious instruction? Expounding Upanishads is not a matter of research.
Vice-President : It is a question of teaching students and I know at least one
instance where there was a Muslim student in the Sanskrit College.
H.V. Kamath : On a point of clarification, does my friend Dr. Ambedkar contend
that in schools run by a community exclusively for pupils of that community
only, religious education should not be compulsory? The Hon'ble Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
: It is left to them. It is left to the community to make it compulsory or not.
All that we do is to lay down that that community will not have the right to
make it compulsory for children of communities which do not belong to the
community which runs the school.
Lal Saksena : The way in which you have explained the word "religious
instruction" should find a place in the Constitution.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar : I think the courts will decide when the matter comes up
above relevant part of the constitutional debates and the concluding remark of Dr.B.
R. Ambedkar give an indication of the minds of the framers of the Constitution.
They had seen the distinction between "religious instruction" as
mentioned in Clauses (1),(2) & (3) of Article 28 and "study of
religions" or "religious education" as a philosophical study.
is a permanent document framed by the people through their chosen and learned
representatives for regulating their social and political life in free India.
The Constitution has been accepted by the people to govern them for all times
to come. The basic structure of the Constitution is unchangeable and only such
amendments to the Constitution are allowed which do not affect its basic
structure and rob it of its essential character. The Constitution was framed by
its makers keeping in view the situations and conditions prevailing at a time
of its making; but being a permanent document, it has been conceived in a
manner so as to apply to situations and conditions which might arise in future.
The words and expressions used in the Constitution, in that sense, have no
fixed meaning and must receive interpretation based on experience of the people
in the course of working of the Constitution.
immortal words of the Chief Justice Holmes, should guide us in interpreting
words and expressions used in our Constitution. He said, "spirit of law is
not logic but it has been experience". His words apply with greater force
to constitutional law.
word "secularism" used in the preamble of the Constitution is
reflected in provisions contained in Articles 25 to 30 and Part IVA added to
the Constitution containing Article 51A prescribing fundamental duties of the
citizens. It has to be understood on the basis of more than 50 years experience
of the working of the Constitution. The complete neutrality towards religion and
apathy for all kinds of religious teachings in institutions of the State have
not helped in removing mutual misunderstanding and intolerance inter se between
sections of people of different religions, faiths and beliefs.
therefore, is susceptible to a positive meaning that is developing
understanding and respect towards different religions. The essence of
secularism is non-discrimination of people by the State on the basis of
religious differences. 'Secularism' can be practised by adopting a complete
neutral approach towards religions or by a positive approach by making one
section of religious people to understand and respect religion and faith of
another section of people.
on such mutual understanding and respect for each other's religious faith,
mutual distrust and intolerance can gradually be eliminated.
of religions, therefore, in school education cannot be held to be an attempt
against the secular philosophy of the Constitution.
real meaning of secularism in the language of Gandhi is Sarva-Dharma-Samabhav
meaning equal treatment and respect for all religions, but we have
misunderstood the meaning of secularism as Sarva-Dharma-Sam-Abhav meaning
negation of all religions. The result of this has been that we do not allow our
students even touch of our religious books. Gandhiji in his lifetime has been
trying to create religious and communal harmony and laid down his life in doing
so. His ardent follower Vinoba Bhave after independence has not only learnt all
the languages and made in-depth study of all the religions of India but covered
length and breadth of India on foot to unite the hearts of Indian people by
spreading his message of non-violence and love. Based on his in-depth study of
all religious books of India, he published, in his life time, their essence in
the form of different books. He has very strongly recommended that the essence
of various religions, which he published in book forms like Quran Saar, KhistaDharma-Saar,
BhagwatDharma-Saar, Manushasanam etc., should be introduced to the students
through text books because these religious books have been tested since
thousands of years and proved to be useful for the development of man and human
society. In a society wedded to secularism, 'study of religions' would strengthen
the concept of secularism in its true spirit.
name of secularism, we should not keep ourselves aloof from such great
treasures of knowledge which have been left behind by sages, saints and seers.
How can we develop cultured human-beings of moral character without teaching
them from childhood the fundamental human and spiritual values. (See Vinoba Sahitya,
Vol.17, pg.44-49 and 67).
28(1), therefore, does not prohibit introduction of study of religions in the
State educational institutions including those wholly or partly aided by the
States. As a matter of fact, study of religions has been considered necessary
for the unity and integrity of India.
society is composed of people of various religions and faiths.
are expected not only to live together and tolerate each other, but to live a
harmonious life in peace and love. Before and after partition in India,
religious conflicts and communal disturbances have impeded the growth of this
nation and its attempt towards progress.
National Education Policy of 1986, a shift by the impugned National Educational
Policy 2002 towards teaching of religions in the schools to educate children to
understand common factors in all religions, is not a non-secular step. Even
before the government decided to make a shift in the educational policy in that
direction, eminent educationalists, thinkers, philosophers and academicians
have expressed thoughts that for all round development of child, study of
religions should start in rudimentary form from school education and should
continue up to the higher education. It has been emphasised that education
should not be for the purposes of making a child merely literate and
intelligent. The real education is one in which a child gradually realises that
he is made up not only of body and mind but also some inner elemental
qualities. Some thoughts of Gandhi on religious education were read before us
on behalf of the Petitioners to point out that Gandhi was sceptical on
introduction of religion in education. His writings, if read in proper context,
on the contrary, contain strong recommendations that common and basic tenets of
religions be imparted to the children. In 1908 in an article in Hind Swaraj on
"Religious Education", Gandhi expressed his thoughts thus:- "The
question of religious education is very difficult. Yet we cannot do without it.
India will never be godless. Rank atheism cannot flourish in this land. The
task is indeed difficult. My head begins to turn as I think of religious
education. Our religious teachers are hypocritical and selfish; they will have
to be approached. The Mullas, the Dasturs and the Brahmins hold the key in
their hands, but if they will not have the good sense, the energy that we have
derived from English education will have to be devoted to religious education.
This is not very difficult. Only the fringe of the ocean has been polluted, and
it is those who are within the fringe who alone need cleansing. We who come
under this category can even cleanse ourselves, because my remarks do not apply
to the millions. In order to restore India to its pristine condition, we have
to return to it. (Hind Swaraj (1908), p.107I.
religion means Truth and Ahimsa or rather Truth alone, because Truth includes
Ahimsa, Ahimsa being the necessary and indispensable means for its discovery.
Therefore anything that promotes the practice of these virtues is a means for
imparting religious education and the best way to do this, in my opinion, is
for the teachers rigorously to practise these virtues in their own person. Their
very association with the boys, whether on the playground or in the class room,
will then give the pupils a fine training in these fundamental virtues.
much for instruction in the universal essentials of religion.
curriculum of religious instruction should include a study of the tenets of
faiths other than one's own. For this purpose the students should be trained to
cultivate the habit of understanding and appreciating the doctrines of various
great religions of the world in a spirit of reverence and broad-minded
tolerance. This if properly done would help to give them a spiritual assurance
and a better appreciation of their own religion. There is one rule, however,
which should always be kept in mind while studying all great religions, and
that is that one should study them only through the writings of known votaries
of the respective religions. For instance, if one wants to study the Bhagavata
one should do so not through a translation of it made by a hostile critic but one
prepared by a lover of the Bhagavata. Similarly to study the Bible one should
study it through the commentaries of devoted Christians. This study of other
religions besides one's own will give one a grasp of the rock- bottom unity of
all religions and afford a glimpse also of that universal and absolute truth
which lies beyond the 'dust of creeds and faiths'.
one even for a moment entertain the fear that a reverent study of other
religions is likely to weaken or shake one's faith in one's own.
Hindu system of philosophy regards all religions as containing the elements of
truth in them and enjoins an attitude of respect and reverence towards them
all. This of course presupposes regard for one's own religion. Study and
appreciation of other religions need not cause a weakening of that regard; it
should mean extension of that regard to other religions.
this respect religion stands on the same footing as culture. Just as
preservation of one's own culture does not mean contempt for that of others,
but requires assimilation of the best that there may be in all the other
cultures, even so should be the case with religion. (Young India,
6-12-'28)." Democracy cannot survive and Constitution cannot work unless
Indian citizens are not only learned and intelligent, but they are also of
moral character and imbibe the inherent virtues of human-being such as truth,
love and compassion. Thinkers and philosophers strongly recommend introduction
of teaching of religions in education. There may be some difference of opinion
between them as to at what stage of education it should be introduced. Whether
it should be introduced right from the primary stage, may be a subject of
debate and it is not for the Courts but for the educationalists and
academicians, to assist the Government in formulating a sound Educational
Policy for primary education. India is mostly composed of people, who are
followers of one or the other religions or faiths. A very small section
comprises of those who are non-believers. They be described as purely humanists
and rationalists. Bertrand Russell in The School Curriculum Before Fourteen,
speaking on the teaching history to the school children, advocates imparting
knowledge of impact of thinkers and philosophers.
: "I should not keep silence, but I should not hold up military conquerors
to admiration. The true conquerors, in my teaching of history, should be those
who did something to dispel the darkness within and without Buddha and
Socrates, Archimedes, Galileo and Newton, and all the men who have helped to
give us mastery over ourselves or over nature. And so I should build up the
conception of lordly splendid destiny for the human race, to which we are false
when we revert to wars and other atavistic follies, and true only when we put
into the world something that adds to our human dominion. (See Bertrand Russell
on "Education" at p. 172).
Russell, who was a sceptic and free thinker opined against indoctrinating
children by religious teaching. He is, however, not of the opinion that
children should be kept away from the knowledge of religion. He has noted a
caution that sometimes teaching of history and religion in the schools which
are run and maintained by religious sects may indoctrinate children to mould
them to their thought and belief and that would certainly be harmful.
sometimes certain views on these subjects are imparted so as to magnify one
country or one religion and denigrate and degrade the other religions. Bertrand
Russell is equally critical of the secular teachings that is negative approach
to religions. (See Bertrand Russell "Principles of Social
Reconstruction" pp. 105-106).
Jawaharlal Nehru Ex.p.m, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Zakir Hussain,
Ex-Presidents of India were also strongly of the view that in the march of
human philosophy only science and spirituality will be the two greatest primary
forces which will keep human-beings in best state of existence. The opinion of
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan on education is thus :- "The end of education, as
envisaged by Radhakrishnan, is self- knowledge. Though man is a composite of
body, mind and spirit, he has to live by what is the highest in him, which is
the spirit and the latter 'should not degenerate into intellect and/or will'.
It is the spirit which is the source of all achievement, creativity, freedom
and discipline." (See : The Social and Political Thought of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
by Clarissa Rodrigues, p. 121).
greatest secular personality of this country, ex Prime Minister Jawaharlal
Nehru has expressed following thoughts :- "All education must have a
definite social outlook and must train our youth for the kind of society we
wish to have. Politicians may strive for political and economic changes in
order to bring that society into existence, but the real basis of that society
must be laid in the teaching of our schools and colleges. The real change will
have to come in the minds of men, though that change can and will be helped
greatly by external changes in the environment. The two processes go together
and should help each other." "The process of education, therefore,
must help to build men and women suited to the age and the task they have to
perform. It should presumably deal with certain basic factors in the
development of boys and girls to give them strength of character and the right
outlook on life. I do not mean by this that they should be conditioned only in
one particular way, but rather that they should develop, apart from the
essentials of character, a trained receptive and tolerant mind which is capable
of considering problems in their entirety and trying to arrive at solutions.
They should in effect develop into integrated human beings.
means not only a process within themselves, which of course is highly
important, but also a measure of integration with the environment." (See :
Nehru on Social Issues by S.P. & J.C. Aggarwal) Swami Ranganathananda of
Ramakrishna Mission, in the book "Eternal Values for a Changing Society,
Vol. 3: Education for Human Excellence", has identified six objectives,
which should be achieved by education. The following objectives which have been
culled fully accord with the constitutional philosophy:-
training of our children to an appreciation of our nation's cultural heritage
and to equip them with the desire and the capacity to enhance the same and
leave to posterity a richer legacy.
training of our children in talents and capacities by which they become
productive units of society and the source of its economic strength.
equipment of our children with the qualities of courage and vision to protect
our newly won national freedom, to preserve its democratic structure, function,
and liberties, and to carry the same to ever wider fields and ever higher
training of our children in virtues and graces that will make them emotionally
stable individuals and enable them to live in peace, harmony, and co-operation
with their fellow citizens.
training of our children in virtues and graces that will make them
international in their outlook and sympathies, and enable them to live in
peace, harmony, and co-operation with the emerging world community.
training of our children to an awareness of the spiritual and trans-social
dimension of the human personality and to a converging life-endeavour in the
realization of this fact in and through life and action.
is only thus that our education will become a fit discipline to help to
continue the march of the Indian tradition from an impressive past to a
pointed out by learned counsel on behalf of petitioners, if there are certain
offending portions in the curriculum, which are not historically correct or has
a tendency to misrepresent, suppress or project a wrong information, they can
learned Solicitor General on behalf of the Union of India and the counsel
appearing for NCERT have very candidly stated that if those portions are
identified, there would be no objection to the Government to consider their
deletion from the curriculum. It has been emphatically stated that the object
of introducing 'study of religions' in the education from primary stage is to
ensure all round development of a child and with the object that he grows as
citizen with respect for constitutional values.
been stated by us above, while dealing with the first point, that a National
Policy of school education having effect and implications upon children of
whole of India should be prepared after careful
and thoughtful deliberations. Learned Solicitor General stated that NCERT
before finalising the curriculum has not only held symposiums, conferences,
talks and debates, but also elicited opinions not only of members of NCERT, but
also ex-officio members of CABE.
stated that although a formal meeting of the members of CABE could not be
called for seeking their advice, but each one of them individually was sent a
copy of curriculum to elicit their views for and against it. It is after long
deliberations, discussions and exchange of views that the curriculum has been finalised.
It is submitted that any restraint puts on introduction of curriculum could
harm the interest of the students, who have already started their academic
session and a very large quantity of text books and literatures prepared by
NCERT in conformity with the National Curriculum of 2002, would go waste. It
is, therefore, stated that this Court should vacate interim order restraining
introduction of National Curriculum on certain subjects as mentioned in the
Order of this Court dated 1st March, 2002. We have looked into the Constitution
and functions of CABE, copy of which has been provided to us. The Constitution
and functions of NCERT are also given to us for perusal. From the language
employed therein, we find that the functions of the two Bodies are not so
clearly delineated as to put them in water tight compartments. In evolving a
National Policy on Education and based thereon a curriculum, in accordance with
long standing practice, it was desirable to consult CABE although for non-consultation
the National Policy and the Curriculum cannot be set aside by the court. In a
constitutional democracy, Parliament is supreme and policies have to be framed
and approved by the Parliament. Parliament had constituted CABE and NCERT and
if CABE has any objection to the National Curriculum nothing prevented it from
expressing its opinion accordingly. It is ultimately for the Parliament to take
a decision on the National Education Policy one way or the other.
not the province of the Court to decide on the good or bad points of an
Educational Policy. The Court's limited jurisdiction to intervene in
implementation of a policy is only if it is found to be against any statute or
the Constitution. We have not found anything in the Educational Policy or the
Curriculum which is against the Constitution.
have found no ground to grant any relief as prayed for by the Petitioners. We
would, however, direct the Union of India to consider the matter of filling the
vacancies in the membership of CABE and convening a meeting of CABE for seeking
opinion on the policy and the curriculum.
bodies created by executive power of the State, are answerable to Parliament
which is the supreme legislative body with all powers in suggesting and
formulating a National Education Policy. It is open to Parliament to fill
nominations to CABE, re-constitute it or do away with it. The court can have no
jurisdiction in that subject. This court can enforce constitutional provisions
and laws framed by the Parliament. It cannot, however, compel that a particular
practice or tradition followed in framing and implementing the policy, must be
adhered to. The court has to keep in mind the above limitations on its
jurisdiction and power. It is true that if a policy framed in the field of education
or other fields runs counter to the constitutional provisions or the philosophy
behind those provisions, this court must, as part of its constitutional duty,
interdict such policy.
the reasons given above, we do not find that the National Education Policy 2002
runs counter to the concept of secularism.
parting with this case, we record our appreciation for the efforts and industry
put on the subject by the parties and their counsel. Their joint efforts are
commendable and we recognise their sincerity and best intentions in seeking
judicial intervention for safeguarding the interest of children, their parents
and through them the nation as a whole. We have, however, found no ground to
grant any directions as prayed for in these petitions. The petitions are,
therefore, disposed of with the observations made above. We make no orders as