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Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have led celebrations on International Yoga Day, but his government has told the Supreme Court that yoga education cannot be an enforceable fundamental right under the law governing children’s right to free and compulsory education.
Petitioner-advocate J C Seth had on March 8, 2011 persuaded the SC to seek response from the Centre on making yoga a compulsory subject in schools citing Section 7(6) and 8(g) and (h) of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, and the National Curriculum Framework (NCF).
On April 21, the SC had asked additional solicitor general Maninder Singh to look into the issue, which has been pending in the SC for six years awaiting the Centre’s response.
Seth had filed an appeal in the SC challenging a Delhi high court order rejecting the plea for introduction of yoga as part of the syllabi and holding of compulsory yoga classes for all school students.
In its recent affidavit, the human resource development ministry informed the SC, “RTE Act does not specifically mention about the curriculum of yoga. As such, it cannot be concluded that yoga education has become an enforceable fundamental right. Yoga is an integral part of the curriculum of ‘Health and Physical Education’, which is a compulsory subject for Classes 1 to 10. To that extent, yoga has not been neglected in school education.”
The Centre also clarified that education figured in the concurrent list and a majority of schools were under the control of states and Union Territories. Hence, it was for states and UTs to ensure compliance of the provisions of NCF, under which yoga is an integral part of ‘Health and Physical Education’ at all levels of school education, it said.
“Implementation of various subject areas, including yoga, depends upon states and UTs concerned,” an official said. “NCF 2005 provides that yoga may be introduced from the primary level onwards in informal ways, but formal introduction of yoga exercises should begin only from Class 6 onwards,” it said. “So far as schools affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education are concerned, which has adopted NCERT curriculum and syllabi, ‘Health and Physical Education’ is compulsory for Class 1 to 10 and optional at Classes 11 and 12,” the Centre said.