Karnataka High Court seeks State govt response on plea against decision to make Kannada compulsory in schools

The petitioner, a 4th standard student has challenged the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2015 to the extent it is applicable to schools affiliated to CBSE and ICSE.
Karnataka High Court seeks State govt response on plea against decision to make Kannada compulsory in schools
Kannada and Karnataka High Court

A 4th standard student has moved the Karnataka High Court challenging the decision of the State government to teach Kannada as a compulsory language in all schools in Karnataka, either as a first language or as a second language.

In this regard, the petitioner Keertan Suresh has challenged the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2015 to the extent it is applicable to schools affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE schools).

"The Act not only violates Article 14, but also Articles 19 (1) (g), 21 and 301 of the Constitution of India and is contrary to the vision and objective of the National Education Policy, 2020 which was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on July 29, 2020," the plea filed through advocate Suvidutt MS said.

Declare the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2018 as unconstitutional, illegal and ultra vires insofar as it does not exempt institutions affiliated to CBSE/ ICSE, the petitioner prayed.

Justice R Devdas issued notice to the Karnataka government and posted the case for further hearing after three weeks.

The petitioner submitted that people with transferable jobs will always prefer to admit their children to study at institutions that are either affiliated to CBSE or ICSE so as to ensure that there is uniformity in their curriculum when they are transferred to another place later.

"A child who will be made to study Kannada as a second language will be put through great hardship and would be at a disadvantageous position if being transferred to another State in the subsequent year," the petition stated.

The objective behind the establishment of CBSE/ ICSE was to cater the needs of parents with transferable jobs and to impart education while also guaranteeing uniformity in the quality of education including the medium of instruction, it was contended.

The compulsion of receiving education in Kannada as first or second language due to the Act will adversely affect such children's livelihood for no fault of theirs and gravely inhibit their ability to learn as neither the pupils nor the parents who belong to linguistic minority in the state would be able to read, speak or write in the regional language.

In this regard, the plea also highlighted Article 350 A of the Constitution of India.

Article 350 states that "it shall be the endeavor of every State and of every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups".

But under Article 350 A of the Constitution, the State has no power to compel any educational institution to adopt mother tongue as the medium of instruction, it was submitted.

"Article 350A of the Constitution only casts a duty on every State and every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mothertongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups, and does not empower the State to interfere with right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to establish and administer schools under Article 19 of the Constitution," the petition stated.

The Act while making Kannada Language mandatory to study as either first or second language has lost sight of the fact that a child may be resettled on account of respective parents being transferred and will be put to a disadvantageous position as they would be required to learn everything in a regional language alien to them.

"The Act is disproportionate and imposes an undue burden and hardship on the petitioners, and imposes unreasonable restrictions on their rights under Article 19 and 30 of the Constitution," the plea said.

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