New Delhi, May 18 The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre’s response on a plea filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to make ‘Health and Yoga Science’ mandatory of the curriculum up to class 8 for the overall development of children.
The division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sachin Datta was hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), in which the petitioner submitted that the Right to Health (Article 21) and Right to Education (Article 21A) are complementary and supplementary to each other.
Therefore, it is the duty of the state to make ‘Health and Yoga Science’ mandatory part of the curriculum up to class 8 in the spirit of Section 29 of the RTE Act 2009. Though the court sought Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma, who appeared on behalf of the Centre, to obtain instructions and respond in the matter, no notices were issued.
During the course of the hearing, the bench remarked that these are policy issues. “We cannot evolve a policy and cast it on the government,” the bench remarked orally.
According to the PIL, the right to health guaranteed under Article 21 includes prevention, protection & improvement of health and is a minimum requirement to enable children to live with dignity. So, the state has not only a constitutional obligation to provide ‘Health and Yoga Education’ to children but also to ensure the creation and sustaining of conditions congenial to good health, Upadhyay stated.
A three-judge bench of the Appellate Court of California had held that yoga is a secular activity and the Apex Court had also expressed similar view in three cases, hence it is duty of the State to provide standard textbooks of Health & Yoga Science for students of Class 1-8 in spirit of the Articles 21, 21A, 39, 47, it said.
The petitioner argued that after enactment of the RTE Act, the study of Health & Yoga Science has become a right of 6-14 years children. But it has remained only on paper and is the most neglected subject. Marks are not awarded for Health and Yoga Science in annual exams and even the teachers of Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Schools say that it is not a compulsory subject, he said.
He also added that the NCERT has not yet published standard textbooks of ‘Health & Yoga Science’ for students of Class 1-8. Therefore, without a syllabus, standard textbooks, trained teachers and evaluation of marks, there has been a total failure in imparting health and yoga education in spirit of NCF 2005. There is a total dichotomy between actual practice of yoga and the ideal, as propounded by the Prime Minister in his speech before the UN General Assembly, the PIL said.