The Punjab and Haryana high court has issued notices to the Punjab government; secretary, education; director general, school education (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan authority); and director, secondary education, Punjab; on a public interest litigation (PIL) about defective practical notebooks being supplied to students in government schools of the state.
A division bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Jain on Monday issued notices for May 8 to the authorities concerned and JR Printing Press, Sangrur.
In the PIL filed by retired headmaster Om Parkash Goyal, the petitioner had prayed for quashing an order dated March 15, issued by the nodal officer-cum-district education officer (DEO), SAS Nagar, vide which all DEOs (secondary) were directed to ensure that students purchased practical notebooks approved by the director, secondary education.
The petitioner stated in his PIL that vide order dated August 30, 2012, the director, secondary education, had approved practical notebooks of various subjects printed by JR Printing Press without scrutinising the content.
Subsequently, the petitioner scrutinised five notebooks published by the Sangrur publisher and detected large-scale irregularities. Many topics in the syllabus were not dealt with in these notebooks, while some topics outside the syllabus were covered. Many answers given in the notebooks were found incorrect, the petitioner claimed.
The petitioner sent a legal notice to authorities of the education department on February 22, seeking the setting up of a committee of subject experts to scrutinise the notebooks and then take appropriate action.
In reply to the notice, the director, secondary education, wrote a letter dated March 19 to advocate HC Arora, counsel for the petitioner, stating that the notebooks had been got checked by his office from subject experts, and prima facie, some deficiencies in printing were noticed and therefore, showcause notices had been issued to the publisher concerned.
The petitioner alleged that despite these developments, the publisher had been circulating the March 15 letter sent by the nodal officer-cum-DEO (secondary), SAS Nagar, to all DEOs (secondary), directing them to ensure the supply of approved practical notebooks to students. The petitioner stated that it would not be in public interest to supply defective practical notebooks to students.