Published: 27th October 2021
Karnataka HC to stay GO making Kannada a compulsory language in colleges if the gov't doesn't reconsider
The state's Advocate-General argued that the language may be needed when students seek employment in the state
The Karnataka government may be forced to take a U-turn on its compulsory-Kannada policy for undergraduate courses starting this academic year, as the state Advocate-General, on October 26, assured the Karnataka High Court that he would advise the ruling government to reconsider its new policy. It is reported that AG Prabhuling K Navadgi gave the assurance after a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, orally indicated it would stay the Government Order of making Kannada a compulsory language for UG courses if the government was not inclined to reconsider its decision.
The Bench adjourned further hearing till November 10 on the petitions filed by the Samskrita Bharati (Karnataka) Trust and other educational institutions, while orally making it clear to the AG that it was adjourning the hearing with a clear understanding that the government would reconsider the decision.
Earlier, the AG told the court that students of UG courses are required to study only “functional Kannada” and not as a full-scale subject. The AG had added that the functional Kannada course will be only for six months so that students know Kannada when they seek employment in the state. However, the Bench orally observed that the Government may impose restrictions on Kannada at the time of employment but it cannot impose the language on UG students.
The petitioners have challenged the legality of the GOs issued on August 7, 2021, and September 15, 2021, making Kannada one of the two compulsory languages to be taught as subjects in UG courses — regardless of the language(s) they studied up to Class XII, the state from which they hail 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 challenged the GOs issued in the guise of implementing the NEP, taking away the choice-based credit system offered in the NEP to promote inclusivity and access to education and making Kannada as a compulsory subject is contrary to the objective of the NEP.