Savarkar textbook row: Karnataka High Court reserves order on petition challenging state education act

The Karnataka High court has reserved its order on a petition challenging the state education act over the Savarkar textbook row.

A Class 8 Kannada textbook passage saying Veer Savarkar flew on bulbul birds has raised questions on the earlier Karnataka textbook revisions. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

By Kanu Sarda: The Karnataka High Court on Thursday reserved its order on a petition filed by an association of private unaided schools, Karnataka Unaided Schools Managements’ Association (KUSMA), over the Savarkar textbook row and scant information about the 1984 Delhi Sikh genocide in school textbooks of Karnataka.

A Division bench comprising Justices Alok Aradhe and Vishwajit Shetty reserved its order after hearing KUSMA and state government.


KUSMA in its plea has challenged the various provisions of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, as being unreasonable and unconstitutional in respect of private unaided schools.

The provision by which the state government prescribes textbooks and directs that nothing more than the syllabus prescribed by the state government in the state-mandated textbook should be taught to children was questioned along with a dozen other provisions in the Karnataka Education Act.

Also Read | Kannada textbook passage saying Veer Savarkar flew on bulbul raises questions on Karnataka textbook revisions

Arguing for the Petitioner KUSMA, advocate K V Dhananjay told the bench to recollect the recent textbook controversy in Karnataka while referring to the Savarkar row where a draft textbook for school children had said that Savarkar would ride out of his jail by flying on the wings of a Bulbul.

It was further argued that after the Government prescribes the school syllabus in a public manner, schools should be free to teach that syllabus in a manner they deem fit and use textbooks that they themselves might prepare or adopt from the open market if what is available in the open market is more child-friendly than government publications.

" The government has no authority under the Constitution to say that nothing more than the prescribed syllabus should be taught to school children," Dhananjay argued while citing the 11-judge decision of the Supreme Court in TMA Pai case of 2002 which had ruled that government regulation should be minimal in school education when the school does not take aid from the Government.

The row began after in one of the chapters introduced in a Kannada language textbook for Class 8, consisting of excerpts from author K T Gatti’s travelogue on his visit to the cell in Andaman where V.D. Savarkar was lodged, the Hindutva icon is written to have flown to India sitting on a bulbul bird’s wing.