LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday sought replies from the federal and provincial governments on a petition challenging the introduction of Single National Curriculum (SNC) and its implementation by the Punjab Curriculum & Textbook Board (PCTB).

Justice Jawad Hassan heard the petition filed by Maryam Bashir and some other parents of school-going children.

At the outset, when confronted on the maintainability of the petition, Barrister Ahmad Pansota argued on behalf the petitioners that his clients being parents were aggrieved by the introduction of the SNC and primarily the books through the PCTB, in all private and public schools of the province.

He said both the books and the syllabus were biased, discriminatory and unfair, hence, ultra vires to the petitioners’ fundamental rights guaranteed under articles 22, 25-A, 36 and 38 of the Constitution.

The counsel further submitted that under the SNC the non-Muslim Pakistani students were bound to study a religion, other than their own, which was a clear violation of Article 22(1) of the Constitution. Objecting to composition of the board, he said it did not include the members from all ethnicities and religious minorities while devising the curriculum.

He argued that the board, while approving the SNC, did not adhere to the observations made in a LHC judgment passed in 2021.

He argued the SNC would change the mindset of the children, who would be confused when promoted to higher classes and going abroad for higher education.

The counsel stated that some material in the SNC was socially incorrect, which would create different impressions among the children at a young age and lead to further complications in their minds with regard to the world at large.

He added that all this was done by the federal government and after last year’s judgment the board made syllabus, but neglected this aspect and improperly approved the SNC.

He stated that as per the Second Schedule under Rule 3(3) of the Punjab Government Rules of Business, 2011, the school education department was the parent department and had the mandate for development and supervision of curricula, syllabi, textbook and maintenance of standards of education in the province, including the task of production, as well as publication, of textbooks for Class I to XI.

Advocate Pansota argued that the PCTB, while preparing the SNC, violated its own powers and functions given under the law. He also stated that the board should include people from different fields, professions, besides educationists from private and public sectors, and the review board needed diversification and transparency.

Subject to a decision on the maintainability of the petition, Justice Jawad Hassan issued notices to the respondents for Dec 6. The judge directed a law officer to ensure the presence of senior officers from the offices of the respondents, besides their reports and comments.

Summoned: The Lahore High Court on Monday summoned principal secretaries to the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister to explain alleged non-implementation of a 2019 verdict requiring action against the people involved in publication of unauthentic copies of the Holy Quran.

Justice Shujaat Ali Khan was hearing a petition by Hassan Muawayah, which alleged that the Ahamdi community and other non-Muslims continued to publish and upload copies of the Holy Quran with distorted Arabic text and mutilated translation on the internet and Google play store only to mislead the Muslims.

The petitioner said repeated applications had been filed with the home department and police authorities for action against the suspects in the light of the judgement.

He said the conduct of the respondent authorities was in violation of the law and the court’s decision.

In the judgment passed in 2019, the court had ordered the government to ensure the copies of the Holy Quran were duly approved by the Quran Board before publication in press and on the internet.

The court also directed the Quran Board and the government to have a vigilant eye on publication and printing of any religious material, in particular the Holy Quran against its original text or authentic meaning.

Additional Advocate General Rana Shamshad told the court that the directions in the judgment were being implemented in letter and spirit by the authorities concerned.

Justice Khan directed the principal secretaries to the prime minister and the chief minister to personally appear on Dec 7.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2022

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