The Madhya Pradesh High Court has dismissed a PIL contending that the state is not ensuring induction of Urdu language as subject in school education despite millions of Indians speaking Urdu and Urdu being officially recognised as a regional language of India. The petition sought a direction to make Urdu a compulsory subject in all schools upto Class XII.
The division bench notd that Article 350A (Facilities for instruction in mother- tongue at primary stage) has been inserted by Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956 in Chapter IV of the Constitution, wherein 'Special Directives' were incorporated. "This Article is designed to implement one of the recommendations of the State Reorganisation Commission, to safeguard the interests of linguistic minorities after the reorganisation of States", observed the Court.
It proceeded to state that Article 350-A of the Constitution of India is not couched in mandatory language. The aforesaid Article reflects that an endeavour shall be made by the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction to be given in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to the children belonging to linguistic minority groups. "That means, Article 350A says that to the children belonging to specific linguistic minority groups instructions be given in their mother- tongue. Thus the intent behind Article 350-A of the Constitution is to develop the skill of specific linguistic minority groups children by communicating them with their mother-tongue. If the education is given in their mother-tongue, that would be more receptable for them. It does not direct that primary education be given in the mother-tongue of specific linguistic minority groups children", opined the bench.
"That means, this Article limits its intent by incorporating the word 'instruction' and not 'education'", it concluded.
It was clear to the court that the provision made under Article 350A, which is incorporated in Chapter of 'Special Directives', is only to safeguard the interest of linguistic minorities after reorganization of the State. It cannot be used to make it mandate, to incorporate any specific language in any specific syllabus, otherwise the object which is enshrined in Preamble of the Constitution will be frustrated.
"It is apparent from the record produced by the petitioner, i.e., Annexures 'A' and 'B', that specific posts of Teacher for Urdu language have been sanctioned by the Lok Shikshan Sanchalnalaya, Madhya Pradesh. That means, sufficient endeavours have already been made by the Government with regard to Article 350-A of the Constitution of India and by this way, the mandate and spirit of Article 350-A of the Constitution is taken care of", held the Court.
It noted that the Preamble is the source of Constitution, to secure to all it citizens Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; it shows the ideals and aspirations of the Preamble and the objects which the Constitution-makers intended to be realised by its enacting provisions and "to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation."
The bench opined that our Constitution is not an ephemeral legal document embodying a set of legal rules for the passing hour. It sets out principles for an expanding future and is intended to endure for ages to come and consequently to be adapted to the various problems of human affairs. Hence, a purposive approach rather than a strict literal approach to interpretation should be adopted.
"It is relevant to reiterate here that a constitutional provision must be construed not in a narrow and restricted sense but in a wide and liberal sense. The Preamble to Constitution given way to anticipate and take account of changing conditions and purposes so that a constitutional provision does not get fossilised rather remains flexible enough to meet the newly emerging problems. Therefore, it can be said that the generous and purposive construction of the Constitution is the basic object of the Preamble", it stated.
The Court expressed the opinion that the Constitution is an ongoing document, therefore, it should be interpreted liberally. It should be interpreted in the light of past experience. It is the duty of courts to interpret the Constitution to fulfill the needs and aspirations of the people depending on the needs of the time. Interpretation of the Constitution stands on a separate footing as compared to our Statute. The Constitution unlike other Statutes, is meant to be a durable instrument to serve through a longer number of years without frequent revision. It is intended to serve the needs of the changing conditions of the future. Constitutional adjudications are not like other interpretations or decision-making. There are moral dimensions to every major constitutional case. The Constitution works on generalities, and a good sense of interpretation.
"In the Constitution, Fundamental Rights are kept in Chapter III of the Constitution whereas Special Directives are kept in Chapter IV of the Constitution. The fundamental rights are considered to be the heart and soul of the Constitution. The fundamental rights occupy a unique place in the lives of civilised society. They constitute the ark of the Constitution. Fundamental rights are those rights of citizens or those negative obligations of the State which do not permit encroachment on individual liberties, but it is made clear that the aforesaid provisions are not absolute in nature. Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the fundamental rights", it was observed.
The bench continued to say that the Intention of the Legislature behind enacting any provision in the Constitution be always gathered by considering the Preamble to the Constitution and the test of constitutionality of the provisions be looked into using object as recited in the Preamble.
"By enacting fundamental rights and directive principles, which are negative and positive obligations of the State, the Constituent Assembly made it the responsibility of the Government to adopt a middle path between individual liberty and public good. Fundamental rights and directive principles have to be balanced", it stated.
The bench expressed that as Article 350-A of Constitution gives safeguard to the interest of linguistic minority and it is not included in Article 19 of the Constitution, therefore, the benefit of Article 19 cannot be extended in the case at hand.
At this juncture, the judgment mentions Article 39 (f)- "that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment".
Article 21-A, which speaks of Right to Education, is canvassed- Article 21-A provides free and compulsory education to children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a fundamental right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory education Act, 2009, represents consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, wherein the provisions made are directive principles and relating Act has been enacted to safeguard the aforesaid.
"For the reasons and discussion made hereinbove, we are of the considered view that the instant petition neither contains bonafide cause nor is as per the object of the Constitution. It therefore being sans substance is hereby dismissed", ruled the bench.