11 Nov 2021 10:15 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday once again questioned the policy decision of the state government making Kannada language as a compulsory subject for every student enrolling in a degree course in the State.The Court had first, on October 26, directed the state government to reconsider its policy decision. A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin...
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday once again questioned the policy decision of the state government making Kannada language as a compulsory subject for every student enrolling in a degree course in the State.
The Court had first, on October 26, directed the state government to reconsider its policy decision.
A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum queried with the government counsel on whether under the National Education Policy 2020, (NEP) the state government can make Kannada language compulsory. It said,
"We want to know as to under NEP, can you make the Kannada language compulsory for all students who come from outside Karnataka to study here in higher education? This is the question to be considered?"
In reply, the government counsel said, "NEP, in fact encourages it. Under the policy it can be made mandatory."
To this the court said,
"What we understand is that it only says that it should be encouraged, not made compulsory. Show under which provisions you can make it compulsory under NEP?"
Senior Advocate S S Naganand appearing for the petitioner Samskrita Bharati Karnataka Trust, submitted that, "Nothing in the NEP policy which enables making Kannada language mandatory. It provides exactly the opposite, full choice is to be given to the student to take any subject in any course."
Following which the court orally remarked,
"We will have to get an inquiry done as to how many students from outside, who had come to Karnataka to study have gone back, because of this. What are you doing? Why involve politics in Education?".
The government counsel then said, "Only alphabets and small words are taught that too only for six months, just to encourage students who have come from outside the state. It is similar to the basic education which we teach to first standard students."
Justice Magadum then orally observed,
"Please let them participate in online classes where Kannada is taught to students they will understand it. Look at the interest of the college in Karnataka, why do you want to bring down the premium colleges. Teach it in schools, not in colleges."
The government counsel then informed the court that students of engineering colleges are being successfully taught functional Kannada for the last ten years.
The court then posted the matter for further hearing on Monday (November 15) when the Advocate General, is likely to address the court.
State government stands by the policy.
In its statement of objections filed in court, the state government has sought for dismissing the petition stating that neither the students nor the aggrieved person are before the court. All the writ petitioners are persons having private interest in the matter.
Further, it is said, "The Government Orders dated 07.08.2021 passed by the State Government is well reasoned and justified. Prescription of Kannada language as one of the two languages for all the students pursuing higher education is necessary to assimilate the Non-Kannadigas into the Kannada regional language, culture and thus it is not contrary to the constitutional principles. Kannada language has not been made as the medium of instruction in Higher Education."
It is mentioned that, "Study of Kannada language for 4 semesters has been made compulsory only to those Kannadigas who have studied Kannada at School level. Every student can study one other language of his choice. For students from outside Karnataka/ outside India, and for those students from within Karnataka who have not studied Kannada at School level, only "Functional Kannada" has been made mandatory for only one semester."
Moreover, "Functional Kannada" will have a separate curriculum specifically designed to help these students in day-to-day communication. This will facilitate the assimilation of these students in Karnataka, as well as help them interact with the local populace. It adds, "Therefore, there is no violation of Article 19 of the Constitution."
The objection also states, "The Government Orders which are impugned in the Writ Petition have been passed after taking into consideration the provisions of National Education Policy the report of Dr.V.K. Gokak Committee and the need to spread the regional language. Therefore prescribing the Kannada language as one of 2 languages to be studied is not against the fundamental right of any of the students. The larger welfare of the students community has been kept as a paramount consideration."
It is also said, "The State of Karnataka has a right to determine the policies which help the development of regional language. Therefore, the students, who have not studied Kannada up to 10th Standard, who have completed their schooling outside the State of Karnataka would be required to choose Kannada language out of 2 languages, during one semester as against four semesters applicable to regular students. And the syllabus contains only functional Kannada to be learnt during one semester in the first year."
The state government has also cited the example of students pursuing Engineering through Visveshwaraiah Technical University, wherein State has prescribed functional Kannada as one of the languages for Non-Kannadigas for 6 months during the first year of Engineering course. It is said, "Having experienced the advantages and the benefits of the said experiment, the State of Karnataka has realized the importance of introducing functional Kannada for all students, who have not studied Kannada in school level."
Case Title: Samskrita Bharati Karnataka Trust v. Union Of India
Case No: WP 18156/2021