Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday September 14 issued notice to Union government on a writ petition filed by Arram Seyya Virumbu trust challenging Section 57 of the Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act of 1976, through which “education” was transferred from the State list to the Concurrent list of the Constitution.
The trust has challenged the constitutional amendment on the grounds that it had resulted in upsetting the federal structure that is a basic feature of the Constitution.
DMK MLA, Dr Ezhilan Naganathan, who filed the writ petition on behalf of the trust, sought Section 57 of the constitutional amendment be struck down to restore the position of education as a state subject.
Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu suo moto included the state government as a respondent to the case, and ordered both it and the Central governmentsto file their counter-affidavits within eight weeks and that it will hear the case after ten weeks.
Senior counsel, N.R. Elango while appearing for the petitioner, said that moving a subject from one list to another in the seventh schedule of the Constitution could not be done unilaterally by the Parliament, and requires a special procedure of obtaining ratification by the states.
Additional Solicitor General R. Sankaranarayanan, who appeared on behalf of the Union Government said that there was no threat to the federal structure envisaged in the constitution, as education has been moved from State list to Concurrent list and not to the Union list. As he sought time to file a detailed counter affidavit, the bench directed the Central and State governments to produce the affidavit within eight weeks.
The trust also argued that in large democracies like Canada, Australia, and the US, education continued to be treated as a state/provincial subject and said that implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) will lead to a situation wherein the autonomy of the state in the field of education will be completely taken away. It argued that this would strike at the root of the federal structure.