[Judgement] Pramati Judgement: Right to mother tounge vs Right to run English Medium Schools

[Judgement] Pramati Judgement: Right to mother tounge vs Right to run English Medium Schools

  1. P1: [SC order] Mother tongue education in Karnataka
  2. P2: Pramati Judgement: RTE doesn’t apply to Minority schools

P1: [SC order] Mother tongue education in Karnataka

Newspapers have made a simple matter too complex. Moral of the story is just two points:

  1. Karnataka government wants every kid be educated in “Non-English” medium for class1 to 4.
  2. Private school-walla wants “English Medium” from class1 itself. Supreme Court says they’ve right to do so.

Now let’s get into technical details:

1994: Karnataka government orders following

  • From class 1 to 4: student should be taught Kannada OR Mother tongue (Tulu, Kodagu, Konkani etc) only.
  • after class 5, student can shift to English medium or any other medium

Private schools (English medium) did not like this order. NOT ONE BIT.

Matter goes to Karnataka High court
School owners Karnataka government’s defense
  • Class 1 to 4 students (and their parents) have right to choose medium of instruction in class1 to 4.
  • They should be allowed to pick English medium also.
  • Hence Karnataka government’s order is constitutionally ultra vires.
  • Article 350A: State needs to provide facility for mother tongue education @primary school.
  • In a previous case, SC upheld that State government has right to prescribe medium of instruction in schools.

Taarikh pe Taarikh…fast forward to 2008 Karnataka high court ruled that

  • Right to carry any occupation. (English medium) school owners have right to carry occupation (i.e. running English medium school.)
  • State cannot force them to teach them only in mother tongue (tulu etc.) or Kannada.
  • Right to free and compulsory education.
  • But that also implies freedom to choose (English) medium, even in primary school.
  • Religious freedom=> right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes.
  • Charitable- indirectly includes educational institutions also. (whether minority or majority, both have this right) so they’re free to pick their medium.
29/1 Religious and linguistic minorities have right to setup their own educational institution. they’re also free to pick their medium.
29/2 no citizen can be denied admission to an educational institution only on the grounds of language

Given these Constitutional provisions. Karnataka HC ordered that

for government schools, government funded private schools Government recognized private (self-financed) schools
state can order them to teach Kannada as one of the languages Government cannot force them to teach in mother tongue or Kannada.

This time, Karnataka State government did not like it. NOT ONE BIT. So they went to Supreme Court. Again Taarikh pe Taarikh. Finally May 6, 2014 The Supreme Court ordered following: (and Hence the topic in news for May week1)

Q1. What does Mother tongue mean? Who’ll decide a child’s mother tongue?

SC order:

  • Mother tongue doesn’t mean the language which the child is comfortable with.
  • Parent/guardian of the child will decide his mother tongue.

Q2. Does a student or a parent has a right to choose a medium of instruction at primary school?

SC order

  • Yes, under Article 19/1/a: Freedom of speech and expression. Under this, a child (and his parent/guardian on his behalf) can chose the medium even at primary school. State cannot impose any language on them.
  • Under 19/1/g: right to carry occupation. So (English medium) school owners also have right to run their business (of running English medium school). State government cannot force them to teach in mother tongue (tulu etc) or Kannada at primary level.
  • And Article 21 or 21A is irrelevant here.

Q3. IF state government forces the schools to teach in a specific language, does it affect fundamental rights Article 14, 19, 29 or 30?

SC order:

  • yes it affects fundamental rights under those articles
  • And therefore, an aggrieved citizen can approach court to seek relief.

Q4. What is the meaning of “Government recognized school”? Only sarkaari schools or private (Self-financed) schools also counted in it?

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