Supreme Court lawyer and Karnataka Unaided Schools Managements’ Association (KUSMA) counsel K V Dhananjay has said there is “zero per cent chance of success” should the government move review or curative petitions.
“There is no bar for the filing of a review petition or a curative petition. But these are not in the nature of appeals and their outcomes are extremely limited. For all practical purposes, the Supreme Court judgement must be taken to be final,” said Dhananjay.
He represented KUSMA, the largest litigant in the petition against making mother tongue or Kannada a compulsory medium of instruction.
When asked whether the government could legislate a new law on language policy, Dhananjay said it would not suffice.
“This can be done when an executive order is challenged by the court, which refuses to look at the merit of the law under which it was issued. In this case, the 1994 government order, which was an executive order, was dealt by the High Court and SC as a law and went into its merits. So a new law will not stand,” he explained.
Relief for English Medium Schools?
The SC was clearly informed that most of the children studying in KUSMA member schools are not native English speakers, and that it should not declare that mother tongue is the language that parents have declared.
“This would have given room for every parent to lie that the child’s mother tongue is English,” Dhananjay said.
KUSMA represents about 1,800 schools in the state.
“This verdict will definitely put an end to the harassment faced by English schools at the hands of the Education Department officials. Schools can now declare themselves to be English medium without any fear or hesitation,” Dhananjay said.
He stressed that the SC verdict is not a setback for the State government as 80 per cent of schools are state-run and another 4 per cent are aided.
“So, the language policy can be implemented in 84 per cent of primary schools and the government should take solace in it. Moreover, 27 other states don’t have any policy and they are doing just fine without it,” he pointed out.
Meeting to Discuss SC Order Today
Primary and Secondary Education minister Kimmane Ratnakar has convened a meeting of Kannada litterateurs, intellectuals, leaders of pro-Kannada outfits and legal experts on Wednesday to discuss the Supreme Court order on the medium of instruction in primary education.
Reacting to the court order, Ratnakar said, “We have three possible options to pursue in the matter — filing a review petition in the Supreme Court, convincing the union government to bring a constitutional amendment and the path of agitation.”
The minister also said discussions would be held with advocates who represented the state in the case in the Supreme Court.
Union ministers from the state will also be consulted before finalising the state’s next course of action, the minister added.
Questions the Bench Answered
1) What does mother tongue mean? If it is the language which the child is comfortable with, then who decides the same?
2) Whether a student or a parent or a citizen has the right to choose a medium of instruction at the primary stage?
3) Does the imposition of mother tongue in any way affect the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, 29 and 30 of the Constitution?
4) Whether the government recognised schools are inclusive of both government-aided schools and private & unaided schools?
5) Whether the State can by virtue of Article 350-A of the Constitution compel linguistic minorities to choose their mother tongue only as medium of instruction in primary schools?
Contentious Clauses in 1994 Order
Clause 2 - The medium of instruction should be the mother tongue or Kannada, with effect from the academic year 1994-95 in all government recognised schools from class 1 to 4.
Clause 3 - The students admitted to Class 1 with effect from ’94-’95 should be taught in mother tongue or Kannada medium.
Clause 6 - Permission can be granted to only students whose mother tongue is English to study in English medium in classes 1 to 4 in existing recognised English medium schools.
Clause 8 - It is directed that all unrecognised schools which do not comply with the above conditions be closed down.