A BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh has proposed legislation mandating legal education for school students. The objective behind this proposal is to empower students to understand their rights and address the escalating trend of juvenile crimes in the country.
In a letter addressed to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Legislator Rajeshwar Singh highlighted the absence of mandatory legal education across various educational boards and schools in India. He emphasized that the current curriculum generally covers basic political theory and an overview of India’s justice system within political science or civics classes. A few schools offer ‘legal studies’ as an elective subject in higher secondary levels.
Citing the increase in juvenile crimes, particularly among those aged 16-18, as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Singh stressed the vital importance of legal awareness. He noted its substantial impact on people’s ability to access the justice system and exercise their rights.
Singh, a former Enforcement Directorate officer involved in investigating significant financial cases, pointed out that the Right to Education guaranteed under Article 21A of the Constitution could only be meaningful if education empowers individuals with knowledge about their rights and responsibilities.
He underscored that ignorance of the law cannot serve as an excuse and proposed that introducing legal education in schools would contribute significantly to actualizing the Constitutional vision of a fair and accessible justice system for all.
The MLA emphasized that providing legal education at the school level would act as a deterrent against criminal activities among juveniles. He highlighted NCRB data, indicating that many prisoners in India were students above class 10 but below the graduation level, demonstrating a potential correlation between education and criminal behavior. Singh suggested that imparting knowledge about offenses and the criminal justice system in schools could lead to a reduction in criminal activities.
He also expressed that integrating legal education into the school system would not only familiarize the youth with their legal rights but also reduce their participation in criminal activities, subsequently lessening the burden on the judiciary.
The MLA recommended educating school children about various offenses, including cyber crimes, drug-related issues, ragging, piracy, reckless driving, stalking, and related sexual offenses.
The letter was also forwarded to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for consideration.