The Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions to decide whether mother tongue or regional language can be imposed by states as the medium of instruction for primary school students.
A Constitution Bench headed by Justice R M Lodha will also decide whether setting up an authority to determine the mother tongue of a child seeking education in schools is a restriction of fundamental rights or not.
The Karnataka government’s 1994 Language Policy had made Kannada the medium of instruction. Since then, there have been a series of cases between private English-medium schools and the state government.
HC Had Upheld Decision
In 1993, a Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice M N Venkatachalaiah and Justice S Mohan upheld the government’s decision.
In 2008, the Karnataka High Court struck down sections of the Language Policy that made the mother tongue the mandatory medium of instruction, ruling that parents were free to get their children educated in any language of their choice.
The Karnataka government challenged before the Supreme Court the High Court’s decision to strike down the clauses.
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court referred the matter to a larger bench last year.
Advocate General Ravi Varma Kumar, who appeared for the Karnataka government, stressed that the state had the Constitutional obligation to provide instructions to people in way of regulation.
Citing various provisions, Kumar told the Bench how important it was to protect minority rights and institutions. “Primary school language should be one’s mother tongue and not English, for, English is an alien language,” he said.
“The state has the power to regulate and the right to oppose restrictions is the right of the state,” Kumar said, while concluding his arguments.
The Bench will on Thursday hear the managements of various schools who opposed the state’s decision to include mother tongue in schools.