Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

'Can't Enforce Any Particular Language On Students': Karnataka High Court Asks State To Reconsider Policy Making Kannada Compulsory In Degree Courses

Mustafa Plumber
26 Oct 2021 11:30 AM GMT
Cant Enforce Any Particular Language On Students: Karnataka High Court Asks State To Reconsider Policy Making Kannada Compulsory In Degree Courses
x

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to reconsider its policy decision, making compulsory the Kannada language as a subject for every student enrolling in a degree course in the State.A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said,"We adjourn the matter today with the understanding that the state will reconsider...

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to reconsider its policy decision, making compulsory the Kannada language as a subject for every student enrolling in a degree course in the State.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said,

"We adjourn the matter today with the understanding that the state will reconsider the policy. We are not putting it in black and white, but learned Advocate General, is here. He will advise the concerned."

Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi raised a preliminary objection to the petition filed by Samskrita Bharati Karnataka Trust. He said,

"What is challenged in this petition is the implementation of National Education Policy (NEP) which the state government has decided to implement by a cabinet decision. This is challenged by way of a PIL. If anybody was aggrieved by NEP, upon its implementation, it would have been the students or teachers who should have come before the court and not the petitioner by way of PIL."

Further, he clarified that, "It is not a regular Kannada course but a functional Kannada course (for beginners) and for a period of six months."

To this, the bench said, "Don't insist on Kannada language."

Navadgi reiterated, "Functional Kannada my lords, the object is if somebody is to study in Karnataka and seek employment opportunity in Karnataka he/she should have knowledge of functional Kannada language."

In response, the bench said,

"Not necessarily employment opportunity. If he (student) is studying in Karnataka it does not mean he will have to learn Kannada. In any manner, you cannot enforce any particular language to students who come from outside."

Navadgi then submitted, "If someone wants employment here (Karnataka), they are being introduced to functional Kannada."

The court said,

"For employment you can put a condition."

Navadgi then said, "As a matter of policy we have introduced it."

The court observed, "We can give you time to reconsider your policy, you cannot enforce it. Otherwise, we will have to stay it. For employment, you may enforce that it is compulsory/necessary to know functional Kannada language, but for education how can you impose?"

Navadgi then said, "It is for the students who may seek employment here. Nobody (student) has come forward before the court."

To which the court orally observed, "Don't bother about students let them take care of themselves. We will have to see the interest of the students. It is not like that students will only have to come to court then only we can consider."

It added, "Better reconsider your policy. If you say so then only we can give you time or we will have to stay this."

To which Navadgi said "Without instructions, I cannot say anything. I will convey the court's observations."

The court in its order noted that "On the request of Ld AG, the matter is adjourned today. List again after vacation."

The petitioner by way of interim relief sought to stay the operation of two orders dated 7/08/2021 and 15/09/2021, to the extent that Kannada had been made compulsory subject in graduation, along with the guidelines for implementation.

Senior Advocate S S Naganand appearing for the petitioner had earlier submitted, "This is affecting about 1,32,000 students." He added, "If a student comes from Delhi, he has not studied Kannada at all, if he comes here to study a BA course, he has to study Kannada compulsory. It is difficult to work it out."

He also pointed out, "This policy comes into force from the current academic year, beginning from next month. Teachers are also going to be affected by this policy. Many of the colleges employ teachers in Urdu, Hindi, Sanskrit and Telugu. If this is made compulsory, no student will be able to take those courses and naturally, the teachers will be affected. They may lose their livelihoods also."

The petition states: "Karnataka state is globally acclaimed for its achievements in the high technology arena and as an innovation and manufacturing hub. Students from different states come to Karnataka to study. Karnataka is therefore a melting pot for students of different states, cultures and languages and this environment has made it a diverse environment for people from different parts of the country. Karnataka's inclusive environment with its diversity makes it an ideal destination for education".

While Kannada is an intrinsic part of the culture and history of the State of Karnataka, it is not the only language that is spoken in the State. Languages such as Tulu, Konkani, Kodava, Beary, Sankheti, Nawayathi, Lambani and Sanskrit are also prevalent in certain parts of Karnataka."

Further, it is said the state government has enacted the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2015 to ensure the learning of Kannada as one of the languages by all students from class I to X from the academic year 2015-16. Thus, the students from class I to X studying in the State of Karnataka are already learning Kannada as a language.

The aforementioned Act also does not make it mandatory to study Kannada. It has been sought to be implemented from primary to secondary classes, however, there has been no attempt to implement Kannada at the higher education levels as primacy has been given to implementing Kannada from the primary stages so that students are well versed in Kannada.

The choice of choosing languages at the higher education levels has been left up to the students. It is claimed that the order dated 07.08.2021, states that two languages have to be chosen along with their other subjects and one of the languages has to compulsorily be Kannada.

Further, it is said "At this juncture, it is pertinent to note that the recommendations and reports submitted by the Task Force and sub-committees on implementation of NEP, 2020 in the state do not contain any recommendations on making Kannada a mandatory language for degree courses. The NEP, 2020 also does not specify any mandatory language criteria for Higher Education."

It is said, "Therefore the order dated 07.08.2021 is completely arbitrary and contrary to Articles 14, 19,21,29 and 30 of the Constitution of India."

The plea also states that the impugned government orders are contrary to the Freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

The said order takes away the freedom to choose a language for study and makes it mandatory for all students in Karnataka to take up Kannada as a language in degree courses offered in all streams of science, commerce and arts. Thus, there is a restriction on freedom of speech and expression enshrined under the Constitution of India.

The plea seeks to quash the impugned Government Orders and to declare that National Education Policy, 2020 does not impose any restriction upon the student to choose any particular language as part of the curricula for Higher Education.

Another petition pending before High Court:

On September 23, Justice R Devdas had issued a notice on a petition filed by a fourth standard student, studying in an Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) affiliated school in Bengaluru, seeking to declare the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2018, which makes it compulsory for all the institutions in the State of Karnataka to introduce Kannada Language as a compulsory subject, either as a first or second language, from Standard I, II, III and IV, for the academic year 2020-21, as ex-facie harsh, draconian, discriminatory, and violative of the Constitution of India.

Case Title: Samskrita Bharati Karnataka Trust v. Union Of India

Case No: WP 18156/2021

Next Story