Science and Comparative Religions textbooks confiscated in Lahore: An Appeal Challenged in Court
Petition challenges confiscation of LGS textbooks
(By Aroosa ShaukatPublished: October 4, 2013 at The Express Tribune)
LAHORE: A Public Interest Litigation was filed at the Lahore High Court on Friday that challenged the provincial government’s decision to confiscate and ban certain textbooks from a branch of Lahore Grammar School on Friday.
The issue which triggered after a television show appeared to be critical of the content that was being taught to grade 7 students in two subjects, ‘Science;’ and ‘Comparative Religion’ at the Lahore Grammar School 55-Main Gulberg.
The TV show which aired on September 16 reportedly prompted the Punjab government to form a committee for the review of the case which led to the confiscation and banning of all the material found objectionable.
A petition filed at the Lahore High Court by an advocacy rights lawyer Saad Rasool challenged both the banning of the two subjects and the confiscation of textbooks and study materials.
The petition also challenged the legality and the validity of the banning process.
Rasool said, “it’s a larger issue – one that pertains to the fundamental right to education, right to intellectual ideas and even censorship.”
He also questioned the process whereby it’s determined what content is Islamic.
The principal of the school Nasreen Shah issued a letter on September 17 clarifying the stance of the school. The letter stated that the subject called “Comparative Religion” had to do with the “history of religion”. The letter maintained that the aim of teaching that subject was to impart information about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.
Shah added that the subject of Islamiat was never abandoned.
The school, in its clarification also stated that the content found objectionable – a chapter on human reproductive system, was never meant to be taught to the class, despite being present in the book.
However, a committee comprising of the secretary schools, chairperson Punjab Textbook Board and chairperson Education Minister took the decision to confiscate the books and materials on the two subjects from all shops.
According to Lahore Grammar School, as many as 120 books have been confiscated.