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JKBOSE vs Private Schools Front: J&K High Court unholds Board authority to prescibe textbooks

News Agencies

SRINAGAR, Sep 9: The High Court of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh has upheld the power of the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) to prescribe textbooks for schools in the Union Territory.
Justice Sanjay Dhar, while dismissing the petition filed by a J&K Private Schools United Front,  observed that it is within the power of JKBOSE to make it mandatory for the affiliated schools to use only those books that have been prescribed and published by them.

The Court observed that neither the private schools nor other publishers have any right to compel the Board to prescribe text books published by private publishers.

J&K Private Schools United Front had challenged a government notification issued on August 26, 2022 whereby all the private schools were asked to ensure that in the first phase, the text books published by the JKBOSE are prescribed by all the private schools across UT for classes 6th to 8th from the ensuing academic session.

The petitioner argued that while the Board is vested with power to prescribe textbooks, the provision does not make it mandatory for the schools to prescribe the text books by the Board for their students.

The respondent Board in its response submitted that curriculum, syllabi and development of textbooks from Class 1st to 12th is their domain and as per the provisions of the Act of 1975, the Board has the power to advise the Government on the matters of policy relating to the Elementary Education and Senior Secondary Education.

The government lawyer said the JKBOSE has a well established Curriculum Development and Research Wing at its divisional offices in Jammu and Srinagar and it has permanent faculty of qualified academic staff to look after this task effectively.

The Board submitted that it functions according to the broader objectives set in the National Education Policy, 2020 and National Curriculum Framework, 2005.

The government lawyer argued that while issuing the impugned notification, mandate of the law was followed and the said notification has the approval of the competent authority.

It was submitted by the government lawyer that the petitioner is interested in commercialization whereas the endeavour of the respondent Board is to benefit the students so as to provide them low-cost textbooks.

After hearing the two sides, HC Judge Dhar observed that it is clear BOSE is vested with statutory power to prescribe text books which include publication of these books.

“It would be well within its power to make it mandatory for the affiliated schools to use only those books that have been prescribed and published by the Board.

Neither the private schools nor other publishers have any right to compel the Board to prescribe text books published by these private publishers, ” the High Court observed.

The argument of counsel for the petitioner that the notification has been issued without the approval of the competent authority is without any merit, the court observed.

“For the foregoing reasons, I do not find any merit in this writ petition. The same is dismissed accordingly. Interim direction, if any, shall stand vacated,” the order issued by Justice Dhar read.

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