Battle of the Articles II: 32/226

The Court must necessarily abide the parameters which govern a nuanced exercise of judicial power. Hence, where an effort is made to bring issues of governance before the Court, the basic touchstone on which the invocation of jurisdiction must rest is whether the issue can be addressed within the framework of law or the Constitution.

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.

The argument on morality seems attractive to those… who lament the decadence of civilization. Combine morality with the need to redefine the values which a society wishes for its young and you have a seemingly persuasive argument in support. The difficulty in a Court mandated acceptance of this argument is precisely its inability to unravel the complexities in the position and the answers which it proposes. 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 realization of the innate humanity which dwells in each human being. Value based education must enable our young to be aware of the horrible consequences of prejudice, hate and discrimination that continue to threaten people and societies the world over. Morality as a defining concept of spreading values may run the risk of being dangerously one sided, exposing young citizens to the same dogma which those who decry the creed of materialism seek to change. Moreover, morality itself is a notion which has varying hues.

It is unrealistic for the Court to assume that it can provide solutions to vexed issues which involve drawing balances between conflicting dimensions that travel beyond the legal plane. Courts are concerned with issues of constitutionality and legality. It is difficult to perceive how matters to which solutions may traverse the fields of ideology, social theory, policy making and experimentation can be regulated by this Court such as by issuing a mandamus to enforce a scheme of instruction in a particular subject in school education… a resolution of such matters must rest with those who have the responsibility to teach and govern over matters of education. 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. A matter such as the present to which a solution does not rest in a legal or constitutional framework is incapable of being dealt with in terms of judicially manageable standards.”

Hon’ble Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Santosh Singh v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1028 of 2014].