Seeking implementation of its direction to make environment education a compulsory subject in school curriculum across the country, the Supreme Court Friday asked the Central government to constitute a core committee to monitor and ensure all state education boards comply.
“Let Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) be the nodal agency to see our directions are complied with. MHRD will bring all the stakeholders on a common platform so that they can share their views and also put forth difficulties in implementing the court order. We will proceed against the states that have not complied with our orders,” said a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta in 1991, asking for a directive to make study of environment a compulsory subject in schools and colleges. In November 1991 and subsequently in 2003, the top court ordered the NCERT to prepare a model syllabus.
On Friday, Mehta read out the pertinent part of the court order. It stated: “We accept on principle that through the medium of education, awareness of the environment and its problems related to pollution should be taught as a compulsory subject.”
The order said that the University Grants Commission will take appropriate steps “immediately” to require the universities to prescribe a course on environment. “So far as education up to the college level is concerned, we would require every state government and every education board connected with education up to the matriculation stage or even intermediate college to immediately take steps to enforce compulsory education on environment in a graded way,” it added.
After perusing the order, the bench said that its order has to be complied with and that “unwilling” states could be proceeded against for the violation. It asked Additional Solicitor General P S Patwalia, who represented the Centre, to call upon the MHRD secretary to head the core committee and get relevant people on board to deliberate upon how to give effect to the court order and make environment education a part of school curriculum.
“You speak to the MHRD and give us a road map by Friday next week. There could be people from MHRD and Environment Ministry in this committee which will discuss the issue and report back to us with information on states that are yet to comply with our order,” the bench told the ASG and fixed the matter for September 23.