SC extends exemption to linguistic minority school students from writing Tamil language paper

A plea challenged the September 2019 order of Madras HC that refused to quash guidelines for granting exemption to students from giving the Tamil language paper in the Class 10 board exam.

Published: 07th February 2023 12:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th February 2023 12:52 AM   |  A+A-

school, students

For representational purposes

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday extended by one year the exemption granted to students studying in linguistic minority schools from writing the Tamil language paper in the Class 10 board examination.

Noting that it is impossible to take a final call on the matter for time being, a bench led by Justices SK Kaul and Manoj Mishra in their order said, “It’s not possible to take a final call on the matter. An interim arrangement which was earlier applied in terms of the Madras High Court's order is there...we extend it for a period of 1 year more.” 

The high court in September 2019 said the government letter of July 18, 2016, which contained the guidelines for granting exemption to students from writing the Tamil language paper in the Class 10 board examination, could not be quashed.

However, the high court had directed the authorities concerned to grant exemption to students in linguistic minority schools from writing the Tamil language paper in the Class 10 examination for the 2020-2022 academic years. It had noted that under the guidelines, only those students who have migrated from other states could apply for exemption.

"The following guidelines are issued for consideration and disposal of applications for exemption from students seeking exemption from writing Tamil in the 10th standard board examination: "a) students whose parents are in government service or in the employment of public sector undertakings/institutions/companies/corporations/private employment/business or any other form of employment in other states and have been transferred/relocated to Tamil Nadu during the course of the academic year and who have not studied Tamil as a language in the school in the state from which they have migrated are eligible to apply," a July 2016 letter said.

The top court’s order came for a plea challenging the HC’s order.

Opposing the relief sought, senior advocate AM Singhvi for Tamil Nadu Government said that automatic extension cannot be sought since the forum had lost in the HC. 

“Having lost the matter, he (the petitioner) cannot automatically seek an extension of the relief. Only 860 students applied for the exemption. He comes to SC in 2022 and applies for relief. He says that next year give it to me. The judgement is of 2019 and the relief was for 2 years. We’re not saying that we won’t teach Tamil. I can’t agree that in TN, Tamil will not be taught. Let him take the exam this year,” Singhvi said. 

The plea stated that in spite of the forum accepting the State’s decision to teach Tamil to the students, the State has removed all minority languages, which are the mother tongues of the Linguistic Minorities, from compulsory subjects. It was asserted that this deprived the students of learning their mother tongue and infringed upon their fundamental right to education in the language of their choice at the Primary and Secondary levels.

“The State cannot infringe upon this fundamental right of the citizen to exercise it in the manner that he/she wishes to exercise. The decision as to what is appropriate for a student has to be taken by the student and his parents and their right to choose the same cannot be taken away by the Govt and all such actions which restrict the right of the citizens to choose, is a violation of their fundamental right under Article 19, 21A, 29 & 30 of the Constitution of India,” the petition also stated.

"The guidelines in the form of a letter dated July 18, 2016, have all the attributes and trappings of being authoritarian by excluding the linguistic minorities of the state from seeking exemption from writing the Tamil language paper in 10th standard public examination," the petition alleged.

(With PTI inputs)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp