The Telangana High Court disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) requesting the state to make environmental science a compulsory subject.
The Divisional Bench of Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Surepalli Nanda adopted this order while hearing a PIL filed by T. Dhangopal Rao.
The PIL had been filed to petition the state of Telangana to make environmental science a compulsory subject following the Supreme Court’s decision in MC Mehta v Union of India.
The Court noted,
On 21.03.2017, the Court requested a report from the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, as at that time the Court was a joint High Court for both States. Subsequently, the Court removed the State of Andhra Pradesh from the list of defendants.
Subsequently, a counter affidavit was filed by the respondents, but the Court found that the counter affidavit did not disclose that environmental science had become a compulsory subject.
The Court stated that before announcing the aforementioned counter-affidavit, we may refer to the Supreme Court’s decision in MC Mehta (supra). It was a public interest litigation for issuing appropriate instructions to movie theaters to exhibit slides and broadcast environmental information free of charge.
The Court further noted,
While ruling on the POA, the Supreme Court issued a number of directions, including the following, which are relevant to the litigation:
We accept in principle that, through education, awareness of the environment and its problems related to pollution be taught as a compulsory subject. The Attorney General pointed out to us that the central government is involved in education at higher levels and that the University Grants Commission can only control undergraduate and postgraduate studies. The rest, according to him, is a matter of state. He agreed that the University Grants Commission immediately take the appropriate measures to give effect to what we have said, that is to say, to require universities to prescribe a course on the environment. They would examine the possibility of making it a compulsory subject at all levels of college education. With respect to education up to the college level, we would require every state government and every school board related to education up to the matriculation level or even intermediate colleges to immediately take measures to implement compulsory environmental education in a progressive manner. This should be done in such a way that this requirement is met in the next academic year. We have not found it necessary to hear from state governments and other interested groups, as there is now a general acceptance throughout the world, as well as in our country, that the protection of the environment and its protection from pollution are an essential necessity for life to survive on earth. If this is the situation, everyone should turn their immediate attention to the proper care to preserve the environment in a decent way.
From the above, the Court concluded that, in view of the importance of the environment, the Supreme Court has instructed the Central Government and Universities Grants Commission for environmental science are part of the curriculum. As far as states are concerned, it was stated that every state government and board of education related to education up to baccalaureate level or even intermediate level should immediately take action to enforce compulsory education on the environment gradually.
Based on this, it is argued that the Department of School Education has taken steps to enforce compulsory environmental education in the school curriculum up to grade level by including environmental studies in a progressive manner from class I.
“After careful consideration, we believe that respondents are taking the necessary steps to make environmental science a compulsory subject at school level gradually. Of course, the Defendant must regularly monitor the upgrade of the said subject so that the Supreme Court’s decision in MC Mehta (supra) is complied with in letter and spirit,” the Court observed in ruling on the motion in brief. .