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Voluntary scheme for schools violating language policy upheld

Staff Reporter

High Court gives schools more time to file affidavits on medium of instruction


Division Bench upholds orders of single judge
Court refuses to stay the language policy of 1994

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Monday made it clear to primary schools that they would have to impart education in Kannada or the medium of instruction for which they had been granted recognition.

The court also refused to stay the voluntary scheme formulated by the State Government on April 12, 2007 under which schools that had violated the condition on the medium of instruction were asked to pay a penalty, obtain fresh recognition and also give an undertaking to teach in the language in which they had been permitted to operate.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice B.S. Patil passed the orders on appeals by the Karnataka Unaided Schools Management Association (KUSMA) and other institutions.

While KUSMA had challenged the validity and legality of the scheme, the other schools had challenged the Government’s language policy of 1994 and the order of derecognition.

In its lengthy dictation, the Bench extended by a week the time for schools to file affidavits undertaking to teach from this academic year in the medium of instruction for which they had obtained recognition. It also directed the State not to collect the penalty from schools under KUSMA and other institutions that wanted to opt for the scheme. It said this payment would be subject to the result of the writ petition. It also granted time till July 2 to the institutions to opt for the scheme.

Interim orders upheld

The Bench also upheld the interim orders of the single judge on May 29, 2007 directing the schools to file affidavits undertaking to impart education in the medium for which they had been granted recognition.

The Bench noted that the Government had announced the scheme on April 12, 2007 for schools that had violated the undertaking given to it. It said that after April 29, 1994 several institutions had applied to start primary schools, and all of them were permitted to teach in one of the eight mother tongues, including Kannada.

However, of the 7,215 schools that had obtained permission to teach in Kannada, 2,698 were found to have violated the condition of recognition by teaching in English.

It said the Government had withdrawn the recognition of 2,215 of the 2,698 schools and action against the rest of the schools was under way. Flagrant violation of conditions of recognition by the managements and the failure of the department officials to take timely action had enabled these schools to continue violating with impunity the condition of recognition.

The Government, it said, took note of the hardship that would be caused to three lakh students and more than 12,000 teachers if the schools were derecognised. Hence, it formulated the scheme under which the schools could obtain re-recognition on payment of penalty and giving an undertaking to impart education in the medium of instruction for which they had been granted recognition.

The High Court observed that under the scheme, students already admitted to standards one to four during 2006-07 would be allowed to continue in the English medium up to the fifth standard as a last chance. In case of such students, Kannada should be taught as a compulsory subject.

Sympathetic view

It said salient features of the scheme indicated that the State had taken a sympathetic view of the “cry of the students and the teachers”. A single judge, it said, had on May 10, 2007 stayed the scheme, which was subsequently modified on May 24. The stay was vacated when institutions coming under KUSMA refused to file affidavits.

The Bench noted that KUSMA had not challenged the order of derecognition but only the scheme. The Bench said, “It is clear in its mind that schools represented by KUSMA are statutorily and morally bound to run schools in the mother tongue in which they had obtained recognition. Prima facie, the action taken by the Government to withdraw recognition cannot be said to be illegal and arbitrary.”

It refused to interfere with the single judge’s order of May 29, saying it did not find it arbitrary or illegal. Since the time granted by the single judge to file affidavits had already expired, it extended it by a week.

Refuses stay

The court also refused to stay the language policy of 1994 and disposed of more than 10 petitions challenging it. The Bench gave liberty to the institutions to opt for the scheme.

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