The decision was based on a lawsuit brought against the Board of Education by the Hindu American Foundation in March. The suit claimed that the procedure used to revise and approve the textbook's sections about Hinduism "was not conducted under regulations required under the California Administrative Procedures Act."
The foundation first challenged the textbooks in 2005, opposing the representations of the role of women, the caste system and divinity and migration theories in Hinduism. The group ultimately filed suit after some revisions were approved by the Board of Education.
In his ruling, Judge Patrick Marlette agreed that the process in which the textbooks were "adopted" was illegal, but at the same time he refused to have them withdrawn from California curriculum.
Mihir Meghani, president of the Hindu American Foundation and a Fremont resident, had mixed feelings about what he described as a "mixed victory."
"After the ruling today, the (foundation) has shown that the state Board of Education had used illegal procedures to evaluate and approve textbooks for use in social studies curriculum," Meghani said.
"This ruling now forces the California Board of Education to comply with the law to have a fair and open public process to benefit all California students.
But Shalini Gara, a member of the Friends of South Asia Organization, which did not support the lawsuit, also claimed victory Friday evening.
"The judge has upheld that the texts will stay as they are, and that is good news for us because we thought they were historically accurate and we were bothered that the (Hindu American Foundation) wanted less importance to be given to negative aspects of Hinduism," she said. "It is important to have a history of oppressed people as well, such as women and the lower castes. The judge validated that history needs to be talked about and children need to learn."
The mixed victory was bittersweet for Meghani and the foundation, which had worked hard to replace the textbooks.
"The (foundation) is disappointed that ... (the judge) has not ordered the textbooks on hand to be modified to be more accurate ... and a flawed and illegal procedure leads to flawed textbooks," Meghani said.
"We don't feel people can learn about Hinduism accurately and adequately through this book."