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Telangana HC disposes of PIL seeking Environmental Science as compulsory subject

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The Telangana High Court has disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to the State to make Environmental Science a compulsory subject.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Surepalli Nanda passed this order while hearing a PIL filed by T. Dhangopal Rao.

The PIL had been filed seeking a direction to the State of Telangana to make Environmental Science a compulsory subject following the decision of the Supreme Court in M.C Mehta v Union of India.

The Court noted,

On 21.03.2017, the Court called for a report from the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh since at that point of time the Court was a common High Court for both the States. Subsequently, the Court deleted the State of Andhra Pradesh from the array of respondents.

Thereafter, a counter-affidavit was filed by respondents but the Court found that the counter-affidavit did not reveal that Environmental Science was made a compulsory subject.

The Court said that before we advertise the aforesaid counter-affidavit, we may refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in M.C. Mehta (supra). It was a Public Interest Litigation for issuing appropriate directions to cinema exhibition halls to exhibit slides and to disseminate information on environment free of cost.

The Court further noted,

While disposing of the PIL, the Supreme Court issued a number of directions including the following which has relevance insofar the litigation is concerned:

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 Attorney-General pointed out to us that the Central Government is associated with education at the higher levels and the University Grants Commission can monitor only the undergraduate and post-graduate studies. The rest of it, according to him, is a State subject. He has agreed that the University Grants Commission will take appropriate steps immediately to give effect to what we have said, i.e, requiring the Universities to prescribe a course on environment. They would consider the feasibility of making this a compulsory subject at every level in college education. 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 colleges to immediately take steps to enforce compulsory education on the environment in a graded way. This should be so done that in the next academic year there would be compliance with this requirement. We have not considered it necessary to hear the State Governments and the other interested groups as by now there is a general acceptance throughout the world as also in our country that protection of the environment and keeping it free of pollution is an indispensable necessity for life to survive on earth. If that is the situation, everyone must turn his immediate attention to the proper care to sustain the environment in a decent way.

From the above, the Court found that having regard to the importance of the environment, the Supreme Court issued directions to the Central Government and University Grants Commission to make environmental science a part of the educational curriculum. Insofar the States are concerned, it was stated that every State Government and every Education Board connected with education upto matriculation level or even Intermediate level should immediately take steps to enforce compulsory education on environment in a graded way.

On that basis, it is contended that the Department of School Education has taken steps to enforce compulsory education of environment in the curriculum upto school level by including Environmental Studies in a graded manner from class I onwards.

“On due consideration, we are of the view that respondents are taking necessary steps for making Environmental Science a compulsory subject at the school level in a graded way. Of course, respondent should monitor on a regular basis further upgradation of the said subject so that decision of the Supreme Court in M.C Mehta (supra) is complied with in letter and spirit,” the Court observed while disposing of the writ petition.

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