Can’t order introduction of legal studies as subject in schools: Delhi HC

 Rejecting a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions for introduction of legal studies as a subject in schools, the Delhi High Court has said the issue falls within the domain of authorities dealing with academic policy-making.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma observed that framing of a course falls within the sole domain of expert bodies and courts are not equipped to substitute for them. The new education policy of the Government of India is catering to the country’s need, it said.

The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, however, added the petitioner shall be free to submit a representation to CBSE, the competent authority on curriculum designing, on the issue.

“The petitioner’s submission that legal studies should be included in the curriculum and should be imparted in every school cannot be accepted as this issue falls within the domain of the expert bodies. The relevant educational authorities are appropriate authorities to deal with academic policy issues involving the list of subjects to be offered to students, their standards and quality of education to be imparted,” said the court in its order released on Tuesday.

“Therefore, in the considered opinion of this Court, it is the sole domain of the experts to design a course and to prescribe subjects and curriculum in respect of school education. The CBSE is a competent authority to design a curriculum/ syllabus and fix number of teachers required to teach the subjects. The admission of the present PIL is declined accordingly,” the court said.

On May 8, the court had orally remarked while hearing the PIL that taking a decision on teaching legal studies to school children fell in the domain of the government authorities as it was a “matter of policy”.

In its order 8-page order, the court emphasised that courses are designed by experts and it cannot take decisions in academic matters involving the standards of quality of education as it noted that “legal education/ legal studies” was already an optional subject in school education.

“This court is not an expert to frame a curriculum or to draft a syllabus and the same has to be done by experts, this court does not find any reason to pass any order in the matter as prayed for,” the court said.

“The courses have been designed by experts of the field and the new education policy of Government of India caters to the need of the country. This Court cannot substitute its views against the views of experts on the subject,” it added.

The petitioner had argued that not imparting legal education to students violated their fundamental rights and deprives them of equality and equal opportunity guaranteed under the Constitution of India read and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

The lawyer for the petitioner had said legal education was a “basic subject” and the soul of the Constitution, and following CBSE’s announcement that they have added “legal studies” as a subject, serious steps must be taken in this regard.

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