Karnataka: Language Policy: Court Verdict Blow to State

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Jul 5 13:57:37 UTC 2008

Friday, July 04, 2008 10:08:04 AM (IST)
B'lore: Language Policy: Court Verdict Blow to State
B S Ramesh/The Hindu

The order is likely to revolutionise the education field in State

Bangalore, Jul 4: The verdict of the Karnataka High Court on the
contentious 1994 language policy has come as a big blow to the State
Government and pro-Kannada organisations, which all along defended the
policy on the medium of instruction. What is more galling to the State
is that though the High Court has upheld in toto the 1982 language
policy, it has only partly allowed the 1994 policy.  Incidentally, the
April 30, 1982, order had prescribed Kannada or mother tongue of a
student to be the first language at the secondary school level.  The
1982 order said that Kannada teaching should be made compulsory from
primary level in non-Kannada schools.

This order was challenged in the High Court, which on January 27,
1984, struck it down as invalid.  The court, however, gave liberty to
the State to pass appropriate orders or rules prescribing one or more
language along with the mother tongue as a compulsory subject at the
primary school level.  The State then filed an appeal in the Supreme
Court against the High Court judgment. Even as a decision was pending,
on June 10, 1989 it issued an order framing a language policy.

Narasimhaiah panel

Subsequently, the Government constituted a committee under the
chairmanship of H. Narasimhaiah to examine problems pertaining to
unauthorised English medium schools and the feasibility of having
English as the medium of instruction at the primary school level.
After the committee submitted its report, the Government on April 28,
1992, and again on June 24, 1992, said schools which were not eligible
to teach in English medium may be permitted to have either Kannada or
any other language as the medium of instruction.
On December 8, 1993, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court order on
the validity of the 1989 Government order.

The Supreme Court, however, said that as far as effective
implementation of the language policy was concerned, the State was the
best judge and that the court shall not interfere with it. This order
led the State to believe that it had been vested with the power to
frame a comprehensive language policy. The State then framed the 1994
language policy which came to be challenged in the High Court.
Wednesday's verdict by the Full Bench makes it very clear that the
State can only regulate and not restrict the right of the students and
their parents to choose the medium of instruction.

As the verdict is based on the Constitution and several judgments of
the Supreme Court, including the T.M. A. Pai, Unnikrishnan and St.
Xavier's cases, the State would now be hard pressed to overcome them.
As there is no appeal in the High Court against a Full Bench judgment,
the only relief to the State would lie with the Supreme Court. The
High Court order is likely to revolutionise the education field in the
State as it is going to "touch every household in Karnataka." All
education matters in the court would have to be decided within the
framework of the Full Bench judgment.


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list