Vande Mataram: HC says only govt can take a call

By PTI Published on Nov 10, 2017 12:00 PM IST

Chennai: In a significant order, the Madras High Court modified a single judge's order making singing of the national song 'Vande Mataram' mandatory in schools across Tamilnadu at least once a week, saying it was a policy matter which should be decided by the government.

A bench comprising Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice RMT Teekaa Raman gave the order on an appeal by the state Teachers Recruitment Board (TRB). It modified the part of the 25 July judgement of the single judge making singing of 'Vande Mataram' compulsory in educational institutions, government and private offices and industrial units.

"We are of the view that since it is a policy decision to be taken by the State, in modification of the order of the learned single judge, we leave it to the discretion of the government to take decision in the matter," the two-judge bench said in a recent order.

Justice M V Muralidharan's bench had ordered that the national song be sung on the premises of establishments identified by the court at least once a week, preferably on Monday or Friday. He also said that the song can be recited in other government and private establishments at least once a month.

The order had come on a petition moved by K Veeramani, who failed to clear the written test for assistant teacher as his answer that the song was originally written in Bengali was considered incorrect. As per the answer key, the correct answer was Sanskrit. Holding that the song was first written in Bengali, the judge ordered that one additional mark be given to the petitioner.

As his marks would still fall below the cut off, the two-judge bench ordered the TRB to accommodate the petitioner whenever a vacancy arose in the SC category to which he belonged. In its order, the two-judge bench noted the efforts made by the single judge, including seeking the assistance of a learned counsel from the bar, to arrive at the conclusion about the language in which the song was penned.

It said, the material collected would undoubtedly show that the song 'Vande Matharam' was originally written in the writer's native language Bengali and was later translated into Sanskrit.

The bench said it had no hestiation in concluding that both the answers-- Bengali and Sanskrit-- were correct, and directed TRB to award one mark to candidates who gave either of these answers. The bench said it was well settled that courts should not ordinarily interfere in policy decisions, unless there is clear violation of a constitutional provision or the statute.

"We find no such violation in the case at hand. We leave it open to the respondent--the Board to deal with the case of the petitioner, after awarding one mark, on merits and in accordance with law," the bench said.