High Court to examine validity of making Kannada compulsory for UG courses

NEP does not specify any mandatory language criteria for higher education courses: petitioners

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday said that it would examine the constitutional validity of making Kannada a compulsory language for undergraduate courses in the State from the academic year 2021–22 on the pretext of implementing the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020.

A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Sachin Shankar Magadum indicated that it would hear on Friday the arguments on behalf of the State Government on a PIL petition filed by Samskrita Bharati (Karnataka) Trust and other educational institutions.

The petitioners have questioned the legality of the Government Orders (GOs) issued on August 7, 2021, and September, 15, 2021, making Kannada one of the two languages to be compulsorily studied in degree courses irrespective of the languages they studied up to class XII, the state from which they hail from, and their mother tongue or the regional language.

Pointing out that the NEP-2020 does not specify any mandatory language criteria for higher education courses, the petitioners have claimed that even the recommendations and report submitted by the task force and sub-committees on implementation of NEP-2020 did not contain any recommendation on making Kannada a mandatory language for degree courses.

Contrary to NEP

While the NEP-2020 purports to offer a choice-based system to promote inclusivity and access to education, the GOs issued in the guise of implementing NEP-2020 take away the choice-based credit system, it was claimed in the petition.

The condition to compulsorily study Kannada in degree courses is arbitrary and contrary to the Articles 14, 19, 21, 29, and 30 of the Constitution of India as they violate freedom of speech and expression, the right of minorities and linguistic minorities, and other students to choose languages of their choice for study, the petitioners contended.

The GOs would result in discrimination as they tend to equate the students from Karnataka and from outside Karnataka with the same credit system by obviously offering same credits for studying difficult or an easier syllabus depending upon their previous education.

It would also result in loss of jobs for over 4,000 teachers teaching languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, etc in Karnataka when students are forced to take Kannada as one of the languages, the petitioners stated.

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