1. Judicial process is not panecea for all ills: Supreme Court

Judicial process is not panecea for all ills: Supreme Court

Judicial process is not an answer to "every social ill", the Supreme Court today said while rejecting a PIL seeking a direction to the Centre and CBSE to introduce 'moral science' as a separate subject in school curriculum.

By: | New Delhi | Published: July 22, 2016 9:20 PM
Justice Chandrachud, writing the judgement for the bench, however, agreed with the contention of lawyer petitioner Mrs Santosh Singh that the moral values are an integral component of value-based education. (Image: Reuters)

Judicial process is not an answer to “every social ill”, the Supreme Court today said while rejecting a PIL seeking a direction to the Centre and CBSE to introduce ‘moral science’ as a separate subject in school curriculum. “While there can be no dispute about the need of providing value-based education, what form this should take and the manner in which values should be inculcated ought not to be ordained by the court. The court singularly lacks the expertise to do so…“The jurisdiction of this 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…,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud said. 

Justice Chandrachud, writing the judgement for the bench, however, agreed with the contention of lawyer petitioner Mrs Santosh Singh that the moral values are an integral component of value-based education. The court said that the maatters of policy are “entrusted to the executive arm of the state” and the court is concerned with the “preservation of the rule of law”. “There is a tendency on the part of public interest petitioners to assume that every good thing which society should aspire to achieve can be achieved through the instrumentality of the court. “The judicial process provides remedies for constitutional or legal infractions. Public interest litigation allows a relaxation of the strict rules of locus standi. However, the court must necessarily abide the parameters which govern a nuanced exercise of judicial power,” it said. 

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, the judgement said.

The bench said that morality is “only one element of in the composition of values” and dealt with various others
aspects including fostering tolerance to those groups holding radically different views. “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,” it said.

The bench said, “…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.” The issues like including ‘moral science” in school curriculum for classes I to XII is “incapable of being dealt with in terms of judicially manageable standards”, it said. “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,” it said.

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