No state can insist on making any language compulsory: Karnataka HC stays GO making Kannada a compulsory subject in college

The two-judge bench also asked the state's representative to not politicise the issue and that the relief provided from the GOs will be applicable to all students until further orders
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

The Karnataka High Court has ordered the state government to set aside its orders making Kannada a compulsory subject for students studying degree courses. Hearing two petitions that challenged Government Orders issued on August 7 and September 15, 2021, the petitions had called the Karnataka Government's move 'arbitrary' and in violation of students' right to freedom and expression. The High Court said that the state government cannot enforce Kannada on those students who do not wish to pursue it as part of their undergraduate studies.

"State government at this stage shall not insist on making language compulsory. Those students who have taken the Kannada language on the basis of their choice may do so, all such students who do not wish to take the Kannada language shall not be compelled to pursue the Kannada language, till further orders," said the court in a statement.

The Karnataka Government had passed these orders in line with the National Education Policy, which directs states to boost regional languages in education. The High Court said that the move was one that required careful consideration and has allowed the Union of India, via Additional Solicitor General MB Nardgun four weeks time to file a detailed affidavit explaining the Government of India's position in the matter. The ASG said that making any language compulsory in any state on the basis of the NEP would have 'vast ramifications', and that such a decision should be taken by the centre in consultation with the states, according to a report by LiveLaw.

The two-judge division bench, which consisted of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awashti and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, also asked Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi to not 'politicise the issue', when he asked the court to restrict the relief provided from the GOs to the petitioners only. One of the petitions is filed by students, and the other by the Samskrita Bharati Karnataka Trust.

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