Medium Students Parents Assn Vs. State of Karnataka  INSC 522 (8 December
S. (J) MOHAN, S. (J) VENKATACHALLIAH, M.N.(CJ) CITATION:
1994 AIR 1702 1994 SCC (1) 550 JT 1993 (6) 634 1993 SCALE (4)627
Judgment of the Court was delivered by MOHAN, J.- All these cases can be dealt
with under a common judgment since the issue involved is the same. We will
first take up the writ petition.
Government of Karnataka, wedded to the cause of promotion of Kannada, appointed
a Committee of six persons with Dr V.K. Gokak as the Chairman and referred the
Sanskrit remain as the subject for study in the school syllabus? (2)If so, how
to retain it without its being an alternative for Kannada? (3)Would it be
proper to have Kannada as a compulsory subject as per the three language
formula and should the option of selecting the remaining two languages be left
to students themselves? 3.The Committee submitted its report dated January 27, 1981 which is popularly known as Dr Gokak
gist of the recommendations is as under:
Kannada should be introduced as a compulsory subject for all children from 3rd
Kannada should be the sole first language for the Higher Secondary Schools
(i.e. VIIIth, IXth and Xth standards) carrying 150 marks, and this should be
implemented for Kannada speaking people from 1981-82 itself and in respect of
others 1986-87, after taking necessary steps to teach Kannada to them from the IIIrd
standard from the academic year 1981-82 itself.
consideration of the aboveboard report, the State Government passedan order
dated April 30, 1982 which is to the following effect:
NO. ED. 11 3 SOH 79, BANGALORE DATED 30TH APRIL 1982 Government have carefully
examined the recommendations of the Committee and having regard to all aspects
of the matter are pleased to order as follows:
the secondary school level, the language pattern to be adopted will be as
or mother tongue (Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, English, Hindi) to carry 150
Two other languages from the following:
Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi to
carry 100 marks each.
(1) Students offering a language other than Kannada as first language will
study Kannada as a compulsory language and any one of the remaining languages
(from Group B) both of which will be examination subjects for the SSLC.
offering Kannada as first language will take any two of the above languages
(from B Group) except Kannada.
coming from outside the State and joining VIIIth, IXth or Xth standard and who
have not studied any of the languages listed as first language may be allowed to
take additional English or Hindi as first language.
teaching of Kannada from IIIrd standard in non-Kannada schools will commence
from the academic year 1982-83 itself and the language pattern for the High
Schools prescribed in para (1) above will come into effect from the academic
joining VIIith standard from the academic year 1982-83 cannot take Sanskrit as
first language or as composite first language. They can take Sanskrit as third
language. This system will continue till the language pattern prescribed in para
(1) above comes into force from the academic year 1987-88.
Commissioner for Public Instruction was requested to take necessary action in
the matter immediately to implement the above orders." 5.Since it was felt
that the order dated April
30, 1982 did not
sufficiently reflect the aspirations of the Kannada speaking people, the
Government thought it expedient to place the entire matter before the State
Legislature. The State Legislature resolved that in the High Schools Kannada
must be the sole first regional language carrying 125 marks.
addition, a student might study any two languages carrying 100 marks each. 15
grace marks might be given for a period of 10 years to students belonging to
linguistic minority community who study Kannada as first regional language and
also those who study Hindi and whose mother tongue is not Hindi to enable the
students whose mother tongue is not Kannada to learn Kannada as the sole first
language in High Schools. Government have taken steps to start teaching Kannada
from IIIrd standard from this academic year i.e. 1982-83. In addition to the
above it was also recommended that the Government should take steps to start
teaching Kannada from the first standard itself from 1982-83.
accordance with the above resolution, the State Government made an order dated July 20, 1982. That order reads as follows:
"ORDER NO. ED 113 SOH 79, BANGALORE
DATED 20TH JULY, 1982 Keeping in view the above, Government are pleased to
direct as follows:
the secondary school level, the language pattern to be adopted shall be as
follows (from the academic year 1987- 88):
shall be the sole first language (to carry 125 marks) B. Two other languages
from the following:
Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Malayalam
and Kannada (to carry 100 marks each) Note:15 grace marks shall be given for a
period of 10 years, (a) in the first language examination, to students whose
mother tongue is not Kannada; and (b) in Hindi examination to students who
study Hindi and whose mother tongue is not Hindi.
coming from outside the State and joining VIIIth or IXth or Xth standard in the
State of Karnataka and who did not study Kannada
earlier may be permitted to take English or Hindi as first language.
teaching of Kannada from 1st standard in non- Kannada schools will commence
from the academic year 1982-83 itself and the language pattern for High Schools
prescribed in para (1) above will come into force from the academic year
joining VIIIth standard from the academic year 1982-83 should not be permitted
to take Sanskrit as first language or as composite first language. They can,
however, take Sanskrit as third language. This will continue till the language
pattern prescribed in para (1) takes effect from the academic year 1987-88.
(4) above which corresponds to para (4) of Government Order No. ED II 3 SOH 79
dated April 30, 1982 shall not be given effect to
pending disposal of Writ Petition Nos. 18882 to 18885 of 1982 in the High Court
of Karnataka wherein operation of the corresponding para (4) of Government
Order dated April 30,
1982 has been stayed.
Commissioner for Public Instruction is requested to take necessary action in
the matter immediately to give effect to the above orders.
orders will issue regarding constitution of the High Power Committee for
effective implementation of the language policy.
orders issued in Government Order No. ED 115 SOH dated April 30, 1982 are hereby withdrawn." 7.Pursuant
to the abovesaid order, the Director of Public Instructions issued a Circular
dated August 1 1, 1982 in the following terms:
"All the non-teaching Kannada schools in the State should begin to teach
Kannada language from the 1st standard in the year 1982-83 as per instructions
contained in para (3) of the Government Order. For that purpose the following
periods of subjects and text books and lessons for study are prescribed as
Five periods a week i.e., two periods for work experience, 2 periods for
physical training and one for singing education.
Text books: Kannada Bharathi.
Lessons for study: 1 to 16, 18 and 36 lessons.
Marks: This being a subject for examination, 100 marks are fixed.
Marks giving: Marks giving and examination rules as prescribed for the 1st
standard are made applicable to this." 8.Aggrieved by the abovesaid order
dated July 20, 1982 some of the educational institutions (the respondents in
the civil appeal) preferred writ petitions in the High Court of Karnataka. It
was contended that the order was violative of the rights of minorities under
Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India. It was further contended that it
was discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
Initially, when the writ petitions came up for hearing before a Single Judge
the matters were referred to a Division Bench. The Division Bench by an order
dated January 27, 1984 referred the abovesaid questions to
the Full Bench. The Full Bench in General Secretary Linguistic Minorities
Protection Committee v. State of Karnataka' expressed its opinion on the three questions as follows:
The Government Order dated July 20, 1982 insofar it relates to the making of
study of Kannada as a compulsory subject to children belonging to linguistic
minority groups from the first year of the primary school and compelling the
primary schools established by linguistic minorities to introduce it as a
compulsory subject from the first year of the primary school and also insofar
it compels the students joining High Schools to take Kannada as the sole first
language and compelling the High Schools established by linguistic minorities
to introduce Kannada as the sole first language in the secondary schools, is violative
of Articles 29(1) and 30(1) of the Constitution.
Government Order dated July 20, 1982 insofar it relates to the making of study
of Kannada as a compulsory subject to children belonging to linguistic minority
groups from the first year of the primary school and compelling the primary
schools established by linguistic minorities to introduce it as a compulsory
subject from the first year of the primary school and also insofar it compels
the students joining High Schools to take Kannada as the sole first language
and compelling the High Schools established by linguistic minorities to
introduce Kannada as the sole first language in the secondary schools, is violative
of the pledge of equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.
1989 Kant 226, 264 556 (3)On the facts and in the circumstances of the case,
the Circular dated August 11, 1982 issued by the Director of Public
Instructions of the State Government is violative of Articles 14, 29(1) and
30(1) of the Constitution of India.
petitions have to be posted before a Division Bench for final disposal of the
petitions." 9.After rendering this opinion the matter was sent back to the
Division Bench for disposal in accordance with the opinion and accordingly the
cases were dismissed by a judgment dated January 25, 1989. It is against this judgment the
State of Karnataka has come up in appeal in Civil
Appeal Nos. 2856-57 of 1989. After this judgment the Government of Karnataka
enunciated the policy in GO No. 87 PRU SE BHA 88, Bangalore dated June 19, 1989 which is to the following effect:
the circumstances explained in the preamble of this Government Order,
Government are pleased to order that the following language policyshall be
implemented in the primary and secondary schools pending final decision of the
From 1st standard to the IVth standard, mother tongue will be the medium of
instruction, where it is expected that normally only one language from Appendix
I will be the compulsory subject of study.
standard onwards Kannada will be an optional subject for non-Kannada speaking
students. This will not be taught on a purely voluntary basis and it will not
be at the cost of any other instruction imparted in the school or any other
school activity in which all school children participate. There will be no
examination at the end of the year in Kannada language.
the Vth standard onwards, where, in the normal course second language is
introduced, the child has to study a second language selected from Appendix I
which will be other than the first language, subject to the condition that the
child who has not taken Kannada as the first language will have to take Kannada
as the second language.
standard onwards provision will be made for the study of the third language
which will be other than language studied by the student as first and second
language. This has to be chosen from the list given in Appendix II.
in the third language class will be compulsory, writing of the examination in
the third language will also be compulsory, but from Vth to VIIth standard it
will not be obligatory to pass the third language examination. No extra credit
will be given in rank, division, class etc. on account of the marks obtained in
the third language examination from Vth to VIth standard.
the secondary stage, i.e. from VIIIth to Xth standards, three languages will be
compulsory. First language carrying 125 marks, second language carrying 100
marks and the third language carrying 100 557 marks. It will be obligatory to
pass the examinations conducted in all these 3 languages, and one of them shall
standard expected in second and third language at the end of Xth standard will
be what would have been achieved at the end of 6 years of study, if the
language subject had been chosen as first language.
contemplated in Government Order No. ED 113 SOH 79 dated July 20, 1982, grace marks shall be given in
Kannada language examination for non-Kannada speaking students; and in Hindi
for students whose mother tongue is not Hindi.
of grace marks will be up to a maximum extent of 15 marks to enable the student
to pass that language examination.
from studying Kannada as a compulsory language can be given to the students
whose parents have come to the State on temporary transfer.
English APPENDIX II
Persian" 10.The validity of the GO is questioned in the writ petition on
the ground that it is violative of Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of
India. Further, it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India
insofar as equal opportunity is not provided, in that, students belonging to
minority communities are discriminated against.
infringement of right guaranteed under Article 350-A of the Constitution of
India is apparent on the face of 558 the impugned order as it prevents
linguistic minority group to avail the opportunity of choices of languages.
as Kannada is made a compulsory language in spite of the clear direction in the
judgment of the Full Bench of the Karnataka High Court it is bad. The impugned
order throws an undue burden on the students since the children are obliged to
study three languages from the primary school stage itself. Accordingly, a writ
of mandamus is prayed for directing not to enforce the order in question.
support of the grounds urged in the writ petition learned counsel for the
petitioner would contend that Articles 29 and 30 must be read along with
Article 39(f) because as on today that directive principle has assumed
significance. If, therefore, the children are to be given proper opportunities
in relation to education no language should be imposed. It is the choice of the
parents to select the language for the child. Under the impugned order from Vth
standard onwards Kannada is made compulsory. That cannot be done vis-a-vis
linguistic minorities. In support of this reliance is placed on D.A. V. College v. State of Punjab2. Again when Punjabi was made the
sole medium of instruction this Court struck down such a provision as seen from
D.A. V. College, Bhatinda v. State of Punjab3. If as laid down in Ahmedabad St.
Xavier's College Society v. State of Gujarat4 the linguistic minorities have a
fundamental right to conserve their language or culture. That cannot be
interfered with and there cannot be an element of force obliging the student to
study another language. By forcing them to study Kannada there is a violation
of Article 14.
as there is no equal opportunity an arbitrary act is liable to be struck down
as held in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India5.
learned Advocate-General of Karnataka submits that the impugned government
order is consistent with the judgment of the Full Bench. The State of Karnataka
has accepted the judgment and has passed the impugned order.
is only a regulatory measure to bring about academic discipline. Having regard
to the fact that the minority institutions exist in the State of Karnataka it
is obligatory on the part of these institutions to impart knowledge of Kannada.
This is the regional language of the State. The GO removes the compulsory
element during the primary stage as is required to be provided under Article
350-A of the Constitution. The arguments of the petitioner proceed on a wrong
basis as though minorities are deprived of its right to preserve its language
or culture. That is not so. There is no violation of either Article 29 or
Article 30 nor even of Article 14 of the Constitution.
order to appreciate the respective contentions it is necessary to find out the
purport of the Full Bench decision of the Karnataka High Court 2 (1971) 2 SCC
2691971 Supp SCR 688 3 (1971) 2 SCC 261 1971 Supp SCR 677 4 (1974) 1 SCC 717
(1975) 1 SCR 173 5 (1978) 1 SCC 248: (1978) 2 SCr 621, 686 559 reported in
General Secretary, Linguistic Minorities Protection Committee v. State of
Karnataka 1. At page 265 it is inter alia stated thus:
W.P. Nos. 18848/1987 and 1097/1988:
writ petitions are allowed.
impugned Government Order dated July 20, 1982 as also the Circular dated August
11, 1982 issued by the Director of Public Instructions pursuant to the
aforesaid Government Order are declared void as offending Articles 14, 29(1)
and 30(1) of the Constitution of India.
Government shall, however, be at liberty:
introduce Kannada as one of the two languages from that primary school class
from which study of another language in addition to mother tongue is made
obligatory as part of the general pattern of primary education; and (b)to make
study of Kannada compulsory as one of the three languages for study in
secondary schools, by making appropriate order or rules and make it applicable
to all those whose mother tongue is Kannada and also to linguistic minorities
who are and who become permanent residents of this State, in all primary and
secondary schools respectively, whether they are Government or Government recognised,
including those established by any of the linguistic minorities." 15.The
above ruling is based on the fact that Kannada was made compulsory even in the
primary stage. That was the gravamen of the charge by the minority institutions
(the writ petitioners). This was the reasoh why the Full Bench expressed its
opinion on the three questions quoted above, in those terms.
view of the liberty given to the State of Karnataka the present GO bearing No.
87 PROU SE BHA 88, Bangalore dated June 19, 1989 (quoted above) has come to be
passed. A corrigendum also came to be issued on June 22, 1989 which reads as
para (i) of Order portion of the abovesaid Government Order dated June 19, 1989
i.e., from the words 'From 1st standard...
to study' the following para shall be substituted:
1st standard to IVth standard, where it is expected that normally mother tongue
will be the medium of instruction, only one language from Appendix I will be
compulsory subject of study.' " 17.A careful reading of the above GO would
clearly indicate that the element of compulsion at the primary stage is no
longer there because the GO is unequivocal when it says from 1st to IVth
standards mother tongue will be the medium of instruction, only one language
from Appendix I will be compulsory subject of study. From IIIrd standard
onwards Kannada will be an optional subject for non-Kannada speaking students.
It is to be taught 560 on a voluntary basis there being no examination at the
end of the year in Kannada language. This part of the GO is clearly in
consonance with Article 350-A of the Constitution of India which reads as
for instruction in mother tongue at primary stage.- 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; and the
President may issue such directions to any State as he considers necessary or
proper for securing the provision of such facilities." 18.This article is
designed to implement one of the States Organisation Commission's important
recommendations regarding safeguards for linguistic minorities in the States
Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, on more than one occasion emphasised on the
mother tongue being the medium of instruction. He forcefully said:
babe takes its first lesson from its mother. 1, therefore, regard it as a sin
against the motherland to inflict upon her children a tongue other than their
mother's for their mental development.
it to be as necessary for the urban child as for the rural to have the
foundation of his development laid on the solid rock of the mother tongue.
can calculate the immeasurable loss sustained by the nation owing to thousands
of its young men having been obliged to waste years in mastering a foreign
language and its medium, of which in their daily life they have the least use
and in learning which they had to neglect their own mother tongue and their own
literature." 20.All educational experts are uniformly of the opinion that
pupils should begin their schooling through the medium of their mother tongue.
There is great reason and justice behind this. Where the tender minds of the
children are subject to an alien medium the learning process becomes unnatural.
It inflicts a cruel strain on the children which makes the entire transaction
mechanical. Besides, the educational process becomes artificial and torturous.
The basic knowledge can easily be garnered through the mother tongue. The
introduction of a foreign language tends to threaten to atrophy the development
of mother tongue. When the pupil comes of age and reaches the Vth standard
level, the second language is introduced. The child who has not taken Kannada
as a first language is required to take it as a second language. At the
secondary stage the three language formula is introduced. However, in cases of
non- Kannada speaking students grace marks up to 15 are awarded.
it cannot be contended that a student studying in a school from Karnataka need
not know the regional language.
should be the endeavor of every State to promote the regional language of 561
that State. In fact, the Government of Karnataka has done commendably well in
passing this GO Therefore, to contend that the imposition of study of Kannada
throws an undue burden on the students is untenable. Again to quote Mahatma
medium of instruction should be altered at once and at any cost, the provincial
languages being given their rightful place. I would prefer temporary chaos in
higher education to the criminal waste that is daily accumulating." 21.In
view of this analysis, it is clear that there is no violation of Article 29 or
30 of the Constitution infringing the right of the minorities. In D.A. V.
College, Bhatinda v. State of Punjab3 this
Court held as under: (SCR p. 687 :
268, para 17) "The University by adopting Punjabi as the sole or exclusive
medium for the Colleges affiliated to the University, notwithstanding the
concessions granted, acted in excess of the power conferred on it. While the
University can prescribe Punjabi as 'a' medium of instruction it cannot
prescribe it as the exclusive medium nor compel affiliated Colleges established
and administered by linguistic or religious minorities or by a section of the
citizens who wish to conserve their language script and culture, to teach in
Punjabi or take examination in that language with Gurmukhi script. The
University Act having compulsorily affiliated these Colleges must of necessity
cater to their needs and allow them to administer their institutions in their
own way and impart instructions in the medium and write examination in their
own script." Therefore, this ruling has no application to the facts of the
placed on this decision by learned counsel for the petitioner is misconceived.
In D.A. V. College v. State of Punjab2 it was held thus: (SCR pp. 703-04:
SCC pp. 279- 80, paras 27 and 28) "Sub-section (3) of Section 4 also does
not in our view transgress the guarantee under Article 29(1). Whether one may
like it or not, linguistic States in this country have come to stay. The
purpose and object of these linguistic states is to provide with greater
facility the development of the people of that area educationally, socially and
culturally, in the language of that region but while the State or the
University has every right to provide for the education of the majority in the
regional medium, it is subject to the restrictions contained in Articles 25 to 30.
the University nor the State can provide for imparting education in a medium of
instruction in a language and script which stifles the language and script of
any section of the citizens. Such a course will trespass on the rights of those
sections of the citizens who have a distinct language or script and which they
have a right to conserve through educational institutions of their own.
view Section 4(3) does not lend itself to the interpretation that the medium of
instruction of all affiliated Colleges has to be Punjabi. The provision, as we
construe it, is for the promotion 562 of Punjabi studies and research in and in
the development of the Punjabi language, literature and culture which is far
from saying that the University can under that provision compel the affiliated
Colleges particularly those of the minority to give instruction in the Punjabi
language or in any way impede the right to conserve their language, script and
again contended that while provision is made in Sections 4(2) and 4(3) for the
study and research of the life and teachings of Guru Nanak and for the study of
Punjabi language, script and literature no similar provision is made for the
study, of religious Heads of Hindus or for the study of Hindi and Devnagri
script though Hindus form a substantial portion of the population of the State.
These provisions therefore are discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of
argument in our view is devoid of merit.
State of Punjab is created as a unilingual State with Punjabi as its language
and if provision is made for study of Punjabi language that does not furnish a
ground for discrimination nor can the provision for study of the life and
teachings of Guru Nanak afford any cause for complaint as in neither case as we
have noticed, is there any compulsion on any person to undertake such studies
nor is any of the communities prohibited from pursuing studies in respect of
either Hindi or of the life and teachings of any Hindu saint.
facts of the case in our view do not attract Article 14." The directive
principle contained in Article 39(f) does not advance the case of the
rightly contended by the learned Advocate-General where the State by means of
the impugned GO desires to bring about academic discipline as a regulatory
measure it is a matter of policy. The State knows how best to implement the
language policy. It is not for the Court to interfere.
Hindi Hitrakshak Samiti v. Union of India6 this Court laid down as under: (SCR
p. 592 : SCC p. 355, para 6) "It may be that Hindi or other regional
languages are more appropriate medium of imparting education to very many and
it may be appropriate and proper to hold the examinations, entrance or
otherwise, in any particular regional or Hindi language, or it may be that
Hindi or other regional language because of development of that language, is
not yet appropriate medium to transmute or test the knowledge or capacity that
could be had in medical and dental disciplines. It is a matter of formulation
of policy by the State or educational authorities in charge of any particular
situation. Where the existence of a fundamental right has to be established by
acceptance of a particular policy or a course of action for which there is no
legal compulsion or statutory imperative, and on which there are divergent
views, the same cannot be sought to be enforced by Article 32 of the
Constitution. Article 32 of the Constitution cannot be a means to indicate
policy preference." 6 (1990) 2 SCC 352: (1990) 1 SCR 588 563 24.In a
matter relating to policy this Court should decline to interfere. In the
result, we conclude the writ petition is devoid of merits and is accordingly
regards civil appeals we find the majority opinion of the High Court has
approached the matter in a proper perspective. We have already extracted the
relevant portions of the judgment. The sting of the earlier GOs and orders was
the element of compulsion especially the children belonging to linguistic
minorities from the first year of the primary school making Kannada as the sole
first language in the secondary schools. Such a provision is violative of
Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution. We have no difficulty in upholding the
well-considered judgment of the High Court. In fact, the State has accepted the
position and issued GO dated June 19, 1989 which is impugned in W.P. No. 536
of 1991. Therefore, the civil appeals will also stand dismissed. However, in
the circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.