MINORITY INSTITUTIONS & MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION

                                                                  Reportable 

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA 

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 

                     CIVIL APPEAL Nos.5166-5190 OF 2013 

State of Karnataka & Anr.                                  … Appellants 

                                   Versus 

Associated Management of (Government

Recognised – Unaided – English Medium)

Primary & Secondary Schools & Ors.                         … Respondents 

                                    WITH 

                      WRIT PETITION (C) No.290 of 2009 

Nallur Prasad & Ors.                                        … Appellants  

                                   Versus 

State of Karnataka & Ors.                             … Respondents  

                     CIVIL APPEAL Nos.5191-5199 OF 2013  

R.G. Nadadur & Ors.                                        … Appellants  

  Versus  

Shubodaya Vidya Samasthe & Anr.              … Respondents  

                                     AND  

                  CIVIL APPEAL No.     5090         OF 2014 

                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.32858 of 2013)  

State of Karnataka & Ors.                                … Appellants  

                                   Versus  

Mohamed Hussain Jucka                               … Respondent  

 

                               J U D G M E N T 

A. K. PATNAIK, J. 

      Leave granted in S.L.P. (C) No.32858 of 2013.

Facts leading to the reference to the Constitution Bench:  

2.     The  Government  of  Karnataka  issued  a  Government   Order dated 19.06.1989 prescribing that “from 1st  standard  to  IVth  standard,  mother tongue will be the medium of instruction”.  On  22.06.1989,  the  Government of Karnataka issued a corrigendum substituting the aforesaid  words  in  the earlier Government Order dated 19.06.1989 by the following words:  

          “from 1st standard to IVth standard, where it  is  expected  that   normally mother tongue will be the medium of instruction.”  

The orders dated 19.06.1989  and  22.06.1989  were  challenged  before  this Court and a Division Bench of this Court in its  judgment  dated  08.12.1993 in English Medium Students Parents Association v. State of Karnataka &  Ors. [(1994) 1 SCC 550] held that the two orders of the Government  of  Karnataka were constitutionally valid.  

3. Thereafter, in cancellation of all earlier orders pertaining  to  the  subject, the Government of  Karnataka  issued  a  fresh  order  dated 29.04.1994 regarding the language policy to be  followed  in  primary and high schools  with  effect  from  the  academic  year  1994-1995.       Clauses 2 to 8 of the Government Order dated 29.04.1994,  with  which we are concerned in this reference, are extracted hereinbelow:-  

          “2. The medium of instruction should be mother tongue or Kannada, with effect from

 the academic  year  1994-95in all Government recognized schools in classes 1 to 4. 

          3. The students admitted to 1st standard  with  effect  from the  academic year 94-95,

                should be taught in mother tongue or Kannada  medium.  

          4. However, permission can be granted to the schools to continue to teach in the

      pre-existing medium to the students of  standards 2 to 4 during the academic year

      94-95.  

          5. The students are permitted to change over to English or  any other language

                                as medium at their choice, from 5th standard.

           6. Permission can be granted to only students whose mother tongue is English, to study in

                                English medium in classes 1 to 4  in existing recognized English medium schools.

           7. The Government will consider regularization  of  the  existing unrecognized schools   as per policy indicated in paragraphs 1 to 6 mentioned above.             Request of schools who    have  complied  with  the provisions of the code of education and  present  policy    of  the government will be considered                 on the basis of the report  of  the Zilla   Panchayat   routed   through   commissioner   for   public  instructions.

          8. It is directed that all  unauthorized  schools  which  do  not comply with the above conditions, will be closed down.”  

Thus, these clauses of the Government order dated 29.04.1994  provided  that medium of instruction should be mother tongue or Kannada  with  effect  from the academic year 1994-1995 in all Government recognized schools in  classes I to IV and the students can be permitted to change over to English  or  any other language as medium of their  choice  from  class  V.   The  Government Order dated 29.04.1994, however, clarified that permission  can  be  granted to only those students whose mother tongue is English, to study  in  English medium in classes I to IV in existing recognized English medium schools.

    4.  Aggrieved by the clauses of the Government  Order  dated  29.04.1994 which prescribed that the medium of instruction in classes I to IV in all Government recognized schools will be mother  tongue  or  Kannada  only, the Associated Management of Primary and Secondary  Schools  in       Karnataka filed Writ Petition No.14363 of 1994  and  contended  inter alia that the right to choose the medium of instruction in classes  I to IV of a school is a fundamental  right  under  Articles  19(1)(a), 19(1)(g), 26, 29 and 30(1) of the Constitution and that the  impugned clauses of the order dated 29.04.1994 of the Government of  Karnataka are ultra vires the Constitution.  The State  of  Karnataka  and  its officers, on the other hand, relied on the decision of  the  Division       Bench of this Court in English Medium Students Parents Association v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra) and contended  that  the  State  in exercise of its power to regulate primary education can, as a  matter of policy, prescribe that the medium of instruction in classes  I  to IV would be in mother tongue of the child or Kannada.  The  State  of Karnataka also contended that Article 350A of the Constitution  casts a duty on the State to provided adequate facilities  for  instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of  education  to  children belonging  to  linguistic  minority  groups  and  the  Government  of Karnataka, after considering a report of  experts  in  the  field  of education, has prescribed in the Government  Order  dated  29.04.1994 that medium of instruction for children studying in classes I  to  IV shall be in the mother tongue of the child.

 5. A Full Bench of the Karnataka High Court heard the writ petition  and all other connected writ petitions and in its common  judgment  dated 02.07.2008, held: 

      “(1) Right to education is a fundamental right being a  species  of right to life  flowing from  Article 21 of  the  Constitution.  By virtue  of  Article 21-            A right  to  free  and  compulsory   primaryc education is a fundamental right guaranteed to all children of  the        age of six to fourteen years. The              right  to  choose  a  medium  of instruction is  implicit  in  the  right  to  education.  It  is  a fundamental right of the parent and the child to choose             the  medium of instruction even in primary schools. 

        (2) Right to freedom of speech and expression includes the right to choose a medium of instruction.    

        (3) Imparting education is an occupation and, therefore, the  right to carry on  any occupation  under  Article 19(1)(g) includes  the right to establish and             administer  an educational  institution  of          one's choice. 'One's choice' includes  the  choice  of  medium  of  instruction. 

      (4) Under Article 26 of the Constitution of India every religious denomination has a right to establish and maintain  an  institution for charitable             purposes which includes an educational  institution. This is a right  available to  majority  and  minority  religious denominations. 

      (5) Every section of the society  which  has  a distinct  language script or culture of its   own has the fundamental right to conserve the same. This is a         right which is conferred on both  majority and minority, under Article 29(1) of the Constitution. 

      (6) All minorities,  religious  or  linguistic,  have  a  right  to establish and administer  educational institutions of  their  choice under Article 30(1) of the             Constitution. 

      (7) Thus, every citizen, every religious  denomination,  and  every linguistic and religious  minority,  have  a  right  to  establish, administer and                          maintain  an  educational institution  of  his/its  choice under Articles  19(1)(g), 26 and 30(1) of  the  Constitution of India,  which  includes  the  right              to  choose  the  medium  of  instruction.  

      (8) No citizen  shall  be  denied  admission  to  an  educational institution only on the ground of language as stated in Article 29(2) of the                         Constitution of India.  

      (9) The Government policy in introducing Kannada as first  language to the children whose

mother tongue is Kannada is valid. The policy that all children, whose mother tongue is not Kannada, the official language of the State, shall study Kannada language as one  of  the subjects is also valid. The Government policy to have mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction  at  the  primary level is valid and legal, in the case of schools run  or  aided  by the State. 


  (10) But, the Government policy compelling  children  studying  in other Government

recognized schools to have primary education only in the mother tongue or the regional  language is violative of Article 19(1) (g), 26 and 30(1) of the Constitution of India.”

 

The High Court accordingly allowed the writ petitions  and  quashed  clauses 2, 3, 6 and 8 of the Government order dated 29.04.1994 in their  application to schools other than schools run or aided  by  the  Government  but  upheld rest of the Government order dated 29.04.1994.

 

6. Aggrieved by the judgment dated 02.07.2008 of the Full Bench  of  the High Court, the State of Karnataka and  the  Commissioner  of  Public Instruction, Bangalore, have  filed  Civil  Appeal  Nos.5166-5190  of 2013.   Fifteen  educationists  claiming  to  be  keen  that  primary       education in the State of Karnataka from I to IV standard  should  be in the mother tongue of the child or Kannada  have  also  filed  Writ Petition (C) No.290 of 2009 for declaring that the  Government  Order dated 29.04.1994 is constitutionally  valid  in  respect  of  unaided      Government recognised primary schools and  for  a  writ  of  mandamus  directing the State Government  to  implement  the  Government  Order dated 29.04.1994. 

7. As the judgment dated 02.07.2008 of the Full Bench of the High  Court was not implemented for more than a year, a  Division  Bench  of  the High Court passed an order dated 03.07.2009 in Writ Appeal No.1682 of  2009 and other connected matters asking the Government  of  Karnataka      to comply with the judgment dated 02.07.2008 of the Full Bench of the High Court and aggrieved by the said order dated 03.07.2009  in  Writ Appeal  No.1682  of  2009,  different  officers  of   the   Education Department of the Government of Karnataka  have  filed  Civil  Appeal       Nos.5191-5199 of 2013.

 8. A learned Single Judge of the Karnataka High Court directed the State of Karnataka in Writ Petition  No.3044 of 1994 to grant permission  to an institution to run English medium school from 1st standard to  4th standard by order dated 22.01.1996.  The order of the learned  Single Judge was challenged before the Division Bench of the High  Court  in Writ Appeal No.2740 of 1997, but on 21.02.2012 the Division Bench  of the High Court dismissed the writ appeal saying that the order  dated       08.07.2008 of  the  Full  Bench  of  the  High  Court  in  Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka v. The State of Karnataka & Ors. has not been stayed by this Court in the  Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution.   Aggrieved  by the order dated 21.02.2012 passed  by  the  Division  Bench  in  Writ Appeal No.2740 of 1997, the State  of  Karnataka  has  filed  Special Leave Petition (C) No.32858 of 2013. 

The questions referred to the Constitution Bench:

 9. All these matters were heard by a Division Bench of this Court and on 05.07.2013,  the  Division  Bench  passed  an  order  referring   the following questions for consideration by the Constitution Bench:

      “(i) What does Mother tongue mean? If it referred to as  the  language in which the child is comfortable with, then who will decide the same?

      (ii) Whether a student or a parent or a citizen has a right to choose a medium of instructionat primary stage?

      (iii) Does the imposition of mother  tongue  in  any  way  affect  the fundamental  rights  under  Article  14,  19,  29  and   30   of   the Constitution?

      (iv) Whether the Government recognized schools are inclusive of both   government-aided schools and private & unaided schools?

      (v)  Whether  the  State  can  by  virtue  of  Article  350-A  of  the Constitution compel the linguistic minorities to choose  their  mother tongue only as medium of instruction in primary schools?”  

In its order dated 05.07.2013, the Division Bench  also  observed  that  the Constitution Bench may  take  into  consideration  ancillary  or  incidental questions which may arise during the course of  hearing  of  the  cases  and further   directed   that   all   other    connected    matters    including petitions/applications shall be placed before the Constitution Bench.

Contentions of learned counsel for the State of Karnataka, 

10. At the hearing before the Constitution Bench,  Professor  Ravi  Varma Kumar, the learned Advocate  General  for  the  State  of  Karnataka, submitted  that  the  State  Reorganization   Commission,   1955   in paragraphs 773 to 777 of its report has referred  to  the  resolution adopted at the Provincial Education  Ministers’  Conference  held  in       August, 1949 that the medium of instruction and  examination  in  the junior basic stage must be the mother tongue of the  child  and  that the mother tongue of the child will be the language declared  by  the parent or guardian to be the mother tongue.  He submitted  that  this       resolution adopted at the Provincial Education Ministers’  Conference held in August, 1949, has been approved by the  Government  of  India and now serves as  a  guide  for  the  State  Governments  in  making arrangements for the education of the school-going  children  in  the       respective States.  He submitted that after the report of  the  State Reorganization Commission, 1955, Article 350A has been introduced  in the Constitution providing that it shall be the  endeavour  of  every State and of every  local  authority  within  the  State  to  provide adequate facilities for instruction  in  the  mother  tongue  at  the primary stage of education to  children  belonging  to  a  linguistic minority group. 

11. The learned Advocate General submitted that, in this background,  the Government order dated 29.04.1994 was issued  by  the  Government  of Karnataka prescribing that the medium  of  instruction  for  children studying in classes I to IV in all primary schools recognized by  the       Government will be mother tongue or Kannada from  the  academic  year  1994-95.  He cited the judgment of the Division Bench of  this  Court in English Medium Students Parents Association v. State of  Karnataka & Ors. (supra) to submit that experts are  unanimous  in  their  view       that the basic knowledge can easily be acquired by  a  child  through his mother tongue and that the State Government has the power to lay down a policy prescribing that the medium of instruction for children studying in I to IV standards in all Government recognized schools in Karnataka will be Kannada or mother tongue.  

12.   The learned Advocate General next submitted that the High Court was not right in coming to the conclusion that the right  to  freedom  of speech and  expression  guaranteed  under  Article  19(1)(a)  of  the Constitution includes the right to choose a medium of instruction and that in exercise of this right, it is  a  fundamental  right  of  the parents and the child to  choose  a  medium  of  instruction  in  the primary schools.  He submitted that similarly the High Court was  not       right in coming to the conclusion that the  right  to  establish  and administer an educational institution under Articles 19(1)(g) and  26 of the Constitution will include the right  to  choose  a  medium  of instruction.  He submitted that in any case  if  the  State  takes  a  policy decision that the  medium  of  instruction  for  the  children studying in classes I to IV will  be  their  mother  tongue,  such  a policy decision of the State Government will be within the regulatory       powers of the State.  He cited the judgment of this Court in  Gujarat University & Anr. v. Shri Krishna Ranganath  Mudholkar  &  Ors.  [AIR 1963 SC 703] in which a Constitution Bench of this  Court  has  taken the view that the State  Legislature  has  the  regulatory  power  to  legislate on medium of instruction  in  institutions  of  primary  or secondary education.  He submitted that  under  Article  162  of  the Constitution, the State Government has executive powers  co-extensive with its legislative powers and therefore the Government order  dated 29.04.1994 prescribing that the medium of instruction of all children studying in classes I to IV will be mother tongue was well within the powers of the State Government.  He argued that even if  it  is  held     that children and  parents  have  a  right  to  choose  a  medium  of instruction for classes I to IV or that citizens who have established schools have a  fundamental  right  under  Article  19(1)(g)  of  the Constitution to choose the medium in which education will be imparted  to the children studying in their schools, the State  could  restrict their right by virtue of its regulatory powers and prescribe  that  a  medium of instruction for children studying in classes I to  IV  will       be their mother tongue.  

13.   The learned Advocate General next submitted that the High Court was again not right in coming  to  the  conclusion  that  the  Government policy compelling children studying  in  schools  recognized  by  the Government to have primary education only in  mother  tongue  or  the       regional language is violative of Article 30(1) of the  Constitution.  He  submitted  that  so  long  as  the  State  permits  a  medium  of instruction to be the same as the language of the minority  community which has established the educational  institution,  the  fundamental rights under Article 29(1) and 30(1)  of  the  Constitution  are  not violated because the purport of  Articles  29(1)  and  30(1)  of  the Constitution is to promote the language of every community  including       the language of a linguistic minority.  He cited State of  Bombay  v. Bombay  Education  Society    Ors.  [AIR  1954  SC  561]  wherein  a Constitution Bench of this Court has held that a minority group  such as the  Anglo-Indian  community,  which  is  based,  inter  alia,  on      religion and language, has the  fundamental  right  to  conserve  its  language, script and culture under Article 29(1) and has the right to establish and administer educational institutions of its choice under Article  30(1)  and,  therefore,  there  must  be  implicit  in  such fundamental  right,  the  right  to  impart  education  in  its   own institution to the children of its own community in its own language.

       He also cited D.A.V. College, etc. etc. v. State of  Punjab  &  Ors. [(1971) 2 SCC 269] wherein a Constitution Bench  of  this  Court  has held that the purpose and object of linguistic States is  to  provide greater facility for the development  of  the  people  of  that  area educationally, socially and culturally in the language of that region but while the State or the University has every right to provide  for the education of the majority in the regional medium, it  is  subject to  the  restrictions  contained  in  Articles  25  to  30   of   the Constitution and accordingly neither the  University  nor  the  State could impart education in a medium of instruction in a  language  and  script which stifles the language and script of any  section  of  the citizens.  According to him, the  rights  under  Articles  29(1)  and 30(1) of the Constitution are thus not affected by  the  order  dated  29.04.1994 of the Government of Karnataka because it prescribes  that  the students in classes I to IV will be  imparted  education  in  the  medium of instruction of the mother tongue of the  children  and  the  mother tongue of the children will be none other than the language of       their linguistic community.

 14. The learned Advocate General further submitted that  this  Court  has  held in Usha Mehta &  Ors. v. State of Maharashtra &  Ors.  [(2004)  6 SCC 264]  that  the  State  can  impose  reasonable  regulations  for protecting the larger interests of the State and the nation  even  in     the case of minority  educational  institutions  enjoying  the  right under Article 30(1) of the Constitution and the “choice”  that  could be exercised by the minority community  in  establishing  educational institutions is subject to such reasonable regulations imposed by the State, but while imposing regulations, the State  shall  be  cautious not to destroy the minority character  of  institutions.   He  argued  that the Government Order dated  29.04.1994  by  providing  that  the medium of instruction of children studying in  classes  I  to  IV  in primary schools will be the mother tongue of the children does not in any way destroy the minority character of the institutions  protected under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.

 15. The learned Advocate General submitted that the High Court has relied on the judgment of this Court in T.M.A.  Pai  Foundation  &  Ors.  v. State of Karnataka & Ors.  [(2002)  8  SCC  481]  in  coming  to  th conclusion that the Government order dated  29.04.1994  violates  the       fundamental  rights  under  Articles  19(1)(g)  and  30(1)   of   the Constitution.  He submitted that the High Court has not noticed  some of the paragraphs of the majority judgment in T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors.  v.  State  of  Karnataka  &  Ors.  (supra)  in  coming  to  its       conclusions.  He referred  to  the  paragraph  54  of  the  aforesaid majority judgment in which  it  has  been  held  that  the  right  to establish and maintain  institutions  for  religious  and  charitable purposes under Articles 19(1)(g) and 26(a)  of  the  Constitution  is      subject to regulations made by the State for maintaining  educational standards etc.  He referred to paragraph 115 of the majority judgment in which it has also been held that the right of  the  religious  and linguistic  minorities  to  establish  and   administer   educational  institutions  of  their  choice  is  not  absolute  and   that   such institutions have to follow statutory measures regulating educational  standards etc.  He submitted that in paragraph 122  of  the  majority       judgment in T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra), however, it has been held that such regulations must satisfy the test of reasonableness.  He submitted that the  Government  Order dated 29.04.1994 prescribing that the medium of instruction  for  all children studying in classes I to IV in primary schools in the  State of Karnataka would  be  the  mother  tongue  of  the  children  is  a regulatory measure and satisfies the test of reasonableness.

 16.  The learned Advocate General finally submitted that Article  21A  of the Constitution is titled  Right to Education’ and provides that the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children  of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may,  by law, determine.   He  argued  that  Article  21A  is  thus  the  sole depository of the right to education and it  is  not  open  for  any citizen to invoke any other fundamental right like  Article  19(1)(a)       or Article 21 to contend that he has a right  to  be  educated  in  a  medium of instruction of his choice.  He  submitted  that  Parliament has made the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education  Act, 2009 under Article 21A of the Constitution, and Section  29(2)(f)  of this Act provides that the medium of instruction  shall,  as  far  as  practicable, be the child’s mother tongue.   He  submitted  that  the High Court was, therefore, not right in coming to the conclusion that the right to choose a medium of instruction is implicit in the  right  to education under Articles 21 and 21A of the Constitution. Contentions on behalf of the respondents who support  the  Government  order dated 29.04.1994:

 17.  Mr. K. N. Bhat, learned senior counsel appearing for respondent nos. 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17 and 18 in Civil Appeal No.5166 of 2013,  submitted that mother tongue is the language in which  the  child  is the most comfortable.  He  cited  Usha  Mehta  &  Ors.  v.  State  of Maharashtra & Ors. (supra) in which a three-Judge Bench of this Court clearly held that the State can impose reasonable regulations in  the larger interests of the State and the  nation  even  on  institutions established by religious  and  linguistic  minorities  and  protected under Article 30(1) of the Constitution and that the word ‘choice’ in Article 30 of the Constitution is subject to such regulation  imposed       by the State.  He submitted that the only caution that the State  has to exercise  is  that  by  imposing  such  regulations  the  minority character of the institutions is not destroyed.   He  submitted  that accordingly if the  State  Government  has  issued  the  order  dated       29.04.1994 under Article 162 of the Constitution prescribing that the medium of instruction for all children studying in classes  I  to  IV would be mother tongue, such an order being regulatory in nature  and not affecting the minority character of the institutions, does not in any way affect the  right  guaranteed  under  Article  30(1)  of  the Constitution.  He submitted that the conclusion  of  the  High  Court that the Government Order dated  29.04.1994  insofar  as  it  compels    minority institutions to adopt medium  of  instruction  for  students  studying in classes I to IV as mother tongue is  violative  of  right under Article 30 of the Constitution, therefore, is not correct.  

18.  Mr. Bhat next submitted that Article 19(1)(a)  of  the  Constitution guarantees the right to freedom  of  speech  and  expression  to  all citizens and the only restrictions that the State can impose on  this right are those mentioned in Article 19(2) of the  Constitution.   He submitted that a reading of Article 19(2) of  the  Constitution  will  show that it empowers the  State  to  make  law  imposing  reasonable restrictions in the interest of  the  sovereignty  and  integrity  of India, the security of the  State,  friendly  relation  with  foreign  States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to  contempt  of court, defamation or  incitement  to  an  offence,  but  does  not empower the State to impose reasonable restrictions in  the  interest of general public.  He vehemently argued that if the right to freedom of speech and expression is interpreted so as to include the right to choose the medium of instruction, the State will  have  no  power  to       impose any reasonable restrictions in the  larger  interests  of  the State or the nation on this right to choose the medium of instruction and such an interpretation  should  be  avoided  by  the  Court.   He submitted that the rationale of the right to freedom  of  speech  and expression in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and the  power  of the State to impose reasonable restrictions under  Article  19(2)  of the Constitution in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of       India, the security of the State,  friendly  relations  with  foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to  contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence, have been explained in the judgments of P.B. Sawant, J. and  B.P.  Jeevan  Reddy,  J.  in Secretary, Ministry of  Information  &  Broadcasting,  Government  of India & Ors. v. Cricket Association of Bengal & Ors.  [(1995)  2  SCC 161].  He submitted that considering these serious consequences which      may arise if we take the view that the right to freedom of speech and expression includes the right to choose  medium  of  instruction,  we should leave this question open if it is not necessary to  decide  it in this case. Contentions on behalf of the respondents who challenge the Government  order dated 29.04.1994:

19.  Mr. Mohan V. Katarki, learned counsel appearing for respondent  no.1 in Civil Appeal No.5166 of 2013, submitted that under Article 350A of the Constitution, the State has no power to  compel  any  educational institution to adopt mother tongue as the medium of instruction.   He submitted that Article 350A of the Constitution only casts a duty  on every State and every local authority within  the  State  to  provide adequate facilities for instruction in  the  mother-  tongue  at  the       primary stage  of  education  to  children  belonging  to  linguistic minority groups, and does not empower the  State  to  interfere  with right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to  establish and administer schools under Article 19 of the Constitution.  

20.  Mr. Katarki submitted that the reliance placed by the State  on  the  decision of this Court in English Medium Students Parents Association v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra) in which the earlier  Government Order dated 22.06.1989  prescribing mother tongue as  the  medium  of      instruction was upheld is misplaced as the reason given by this Court in the aforesaid decision for upholding the order dated 22.06.1989 of the State Government is that the order did not  have  an  element  of compulsion.  He submitted that the Government order dated 29.04.1994,  on the other hand, makes it compulsory for all Government  recognized schools including private unaided schools to adopt mother  tongue  of the child as the medium of instruction in classes I to IV.

 21.  Mr. Katarki submitted that this Court has  held  in  Unni  Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. [(1993) 1 SCC 645] that the right to education of a child up to the age of 14 years  is  part of the right to life  under  Article  21  of  the  Constitution  and, therefore, the High Court was right in coming to the conclusion  that the right to be educated in the medium of instruction of  the  choice of the child is also part of  the  right  under  Article  21  of  the       Constitution. He submitted that similarly the  right  to  freedom  of speech and expression will include the right to choose the medium  of instruction in which the child is to be educated and the  High  Court was, therefore, right in coming to the conclusion that  compelling  a child to be educated through a particular medium of instruction, such as his mother  tongue,  is  violative  of  his  right  under  Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

 22.  Mr. Katarki next submitted that Article 30(1)  of  the  Constitution confers on religious and linguistic minority communities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice and the word “choice” clearly indicates that the State cannot  compel  an institution established by a  religious  or  linguistic  minority  to impart education in their institution to the children of classes I to IV only in the mother tongue of the children.   In  support  of  this      submission, he relied on the decisions of this Court  in  In  re  The Kerala Education Bill, 1957 [1959 SCR 995], Rev. Father W.  Proost  & Ors. v. The State of Bihar & Ors. [1969 (2) SCR 73], D.A.V.  College, etc. etc.  v.  State  of  Punjab  &  Ors.  (supra),  D.A.V.  College, Bhatinda, etc. v.  The  State  of  Punjab  &  Ors.  (supra)  and  The Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College Society & Anr. v. State of  Gujarat  & Anr. [(1974) 1 SCC 717].  He  submitted  that  even  the  educational institutions which have  not  been  established  by  a  religious  or linguistic minority have a right to freedom under  Articles  19(1)(g) and 26 of the Constitution and in exercise of his right, they have a right to choose the medium of  instruction  in  which  they  want  to      impart education to their students.  In support of this  proposition, he relied on the majority judgment in T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra) and P.A. Inamdar & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. [(2005) 6 SCC 537]. 

23.  Mr. G.R. Mohan, appearing for respondent  Nos.10  and  11  in  Civil Appeal No.5186 of 2013, while adopting the aforesaid  submissions  of  Mr. Katarki, further submitted that Article 26(3)  of  the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by  the  members  of  the  United       Nations including India provides that parents have a prior  right  to choose the kind of education that shall be given to  their  children. Mr. K.V.  Dhananjay,  learned  counsel  appearing  for  some  of  the respondents, also adopted the submissions of Mr. Katarki. Our answers to the five questions referred to us:

24. Question No.(i): “What does Mother tongue mean? If it referred to  as the language in which the child is comfortable with,  then  who  will decide the same?”.

As this question is referred to us in context of our Constitution,  we  have to answer this question by interpreting the expression  “mother  tongue”  as used in the Constitution.  We must not forget that the Constitution  is  not just an ordinary Act which the court has to interpret  for  the  purpose  of declaring the law, but is a mechanism under which the laws are to  be  made.

As Kania C.J. observed in A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras (AIR 1950 SC 27):

           “Although we are to interpret words of the Constitution  on  the same principles of

interpretation as we apply  to  any  ordinary law, these very principles of interpretation compel us  to  take into account the nature  and  scope  of  the  Act  that  we  are interpreting  –  to  emember  that  it  is  a  Constitution,  a mechanism under which laws are to be made and  not  a  mere  Act which declares what the law is to be.”

The only  provision  in  the  Constitution  which  contains  the  expression “mother tongue” is Article 350A. We must therefore  understand  why  Article 350A  was  inserted  in  the   Constitution.    The   State   Reorganization Commission, 1955,  made  recommendations  for  reorganizing  the  States  on linguistic basis.  In Part  IV  of  its  report,  the  State  Reorganization Commission, 1955, has  devoted  Chapter  I  to  “safeguards  for  linguistic

groups” and has recommended that the linguistic  minorities  of  the  States should have the right to instruction in mother tongue.  In support  of  this recommendation, the State Reorganization Commission,  1955,  has  relied  on the resolution adopted at the  Provincial  Education  Ministers’  Conference held in August, 1949, which had been approved by  the  Government  of  India and which had  served  as  a  guide  to  the  State  Governments  in  making arrangements for the education of the  school-going  children  whose  mother tongue  is  different  from  the  regional  language.   This  resolution  is extracted hereinbelow:

           “The medium of instruction and examination in the  junior  basic  stage must be the

mother tongue of  the  child  and,  where  the mother tongue is different from the regional or State  language, arrangements must be made for instruction in the  mother  tongue by appointing at least one teacher, provided there are not  less than 40 pupils speaking the language in the whole school  or  10 such pupils in a class.  The mother tongue will be the  language declared by the parent or guardian to be the mother tongue.  The regional or State language,  where  it  is  different  from  the mother tongue, should be introduced not earlier than  Class  III and not later than the end of the junior basic stage.  In  order to facilitate the switching-over to  the  regional  language  as medium in the secondary stage,  children  should  be  given  the option of answering questions in their mother  tongue,  for  the first two years after the junior basic stage.”  

From  the  aforesaid  resolution  adopted  at   the   Provincial   Education Ministers’ Conference held in August, 1949, and from the recommendations  of the  State  Reorganization  Commission,  1955,  it  is  clear   that   while recommending language as the basis  for  reorganization  of  the  States  in India, the Commission wanted to ensure that the children of  the  linguistic minority which had a language different from the language of the State  were imparted education at the primary stage in  their  mother  tongue.   In  the resolution adopted at the Provincial Education  Ministers’  Conference  held in August, 1949, extracted above, it was  also  clarified  that  the  mother tongue will be the language declared by the parent or  guardian  to  be  the mother tongue.

 25. After the recommendations of  the  State  Reorganization  Commission, 1955,  Article  350A  was  inserted  in  the  Constitution   by   the Constitution (VIIth Amendment) Act.  Article 350A reads:

           “It shall be the endeavour of every State  and  of  every local authority within the

State to provide  adequate  facilities  for instruction in  the  mother  tongue  at  the  primary  stage  of education to children belonging to linguistic  minority  groups; and the President may issue such directions to any State  as  he considers necessary or proper for securing the provision of such facilities.”

A mere reading of Article 350A of the Constitution would show that it  casts a duty on every State and every local authority within the State to  provide adequate facilities for instruction in the  mother  tongue  at  the  primary stage of education to children  belonging  to  linguistic  minority  groups. Hence, the expression ‘mother tongue’  in  Article  350A  means  the  mother tongue of the linguistic minority group  in  a  particular  State  and  this would obviously mean the language of  that  particular  linguistic  minority group.

 26. Mother tongue in the context of the  Constitution  would,  therefore, mean the language of the linguistic minority in a State and it is the parent or the guardian of the child who will decide what  the  mother tongue of child is.  The Constitution nowhere  provides  that  mother tongue is the language which the child is comfortable with, and while this meaning of “mother tongue” may be  a  possible  meaning  of  the ‘expression’, this is not the meaning of  mother  tongue  in  Article       350A  of  the  Constitution  or  in  any  other  provision   of   the Constitution and hence we cannot either expand the power of the State or restrict a fundamental right by saying that mother tongue  is  the language which the child is comfortable with.  We accordingly  answer       question no.(i).

 27. Question No.(ii): Whether a student or a parent or a  citizen  has  a right to choose a medium of instruction at primary stage ?

The High Court has held that the parent or a child has a  right  to  choose medium of instruction in primary schools as part of the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the  Constitution  and  the right to choose the medium of instruction is also implicit in the right  to education under Articles 21 and 21A of the Constitution.  We have to decide whether these conclusions of the High Court that the parent or a child  has a right to choose the medium of instruction in primary schools as  part  of the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and also has a right to choose the medium  of  instruction  in primary schools under Articles 21 and 21A of the Constitution are correct.

 28. Article 19 of the Constitution is titled “Right to  Freedom”  and  it states that all citizens shall have the right—

     (a) to freedom of speech and expression;

           (b) to assemble peaceably and without  arms;

           (c)  to form associations or unions;

           (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

           (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;

           (f)  x x x

           (g) to practise any profession, or to carry on  any  occupation, trade or business.

The word ‘freedom’ in Article  19  of  the  Constitution  means  absence  of control by the State and Article 19(1) provides  that  the  State  will  not impose controls on the citizen  in  the  matters  mentioned  in  sub-clauses (a),(b),(c),(d),(e) and (g) of  Article  19(1)  except  those  specified  in clauses 2 to  6  of  Articles  19  of  the  Constitution.   In  all  matters specified in clause (1)  of  Article  19,  the  citizen  has  therefore  the liberty to choose, subject only to restrictions in clauses  (2)  to  (6)  of Article 19.  

29.   One of the reasons for giving  this  liberty  to  the  citizens  is contained in the famous essay ‘On Liberty’ by John Stuart  Mill.   He writes:  

“Secondly, the principle requires liberty of tastes  and  pursuits; of framing the plan  of our life to suit our own character; of doing as we like, subject to such consequences  as  may follow:  without  impediment from our fellow creatures, so long as what  we  do  does not harm them, even though they should think our  conduct  foolish, perverse, or wrong.”  

According to Mill, therefore, each individual must  in  certain  matters  be left alone to frame the plan of his life to suit his own  character  and  to do as he likes without  any  impediment  and  even  if  he  decides  to  act foolishly in such matters, society or on its behalf  the  State  should  not interfere with the choice of the individual.  Harold J. Laski, who  was  not prepared  to  accept  Mill’s  attempts  to  define  the  limits   of   State interference, was also of the opinion that in some  matters  the  individual must have the freedom of choice.  To quote a  passage  from  “A  Grammar  of Politics” by Harold J. Laski:

          “My freedoms are avenues of choice through which I may, as I  deem fit, construct for myself  my  own  course  of  conduct.   And  the freedoms I must possess to enjoy a general liberty are those which, in their sum, will constitute the path through which my  best  self          is capable of attainment.  That is not to say it will be  attained. It is to say only that I alone can make that best  self,  and  that without those freedoms I have not the means of  manufacture  at  my          disposal.”  

Freedom or choice in the matter  of  speech  and  expression  is  absolutely necessary for an individual to develop his personality in his  own  way  and this is one reason, if not the only reason, why under  Article  19(1)(a)  of the Constitution every citizen has been guaranteed the right to  freedom  of speech and expression.  

30. This Court has from time to time expanded the scope of the  right  to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the  Constitution   by   consistently   adopting   a   very   liberal interpretation.  In Romesh Thappar v. The State of Madras  [AIR  1950       SC 124], this Court  held  that  freedom  of  speech  and  expression includes freedom of propagation of ideas which is ensured by  freedom of circulation and in Sakal Papers (P) Ltd. v. Union  of  India  [AIR 1962 SC 305], this Court held that freedom of speech  and  expression carries with it the right  to  publish  and  circulate  one’s  ideas, opinions and views.  In Bennett Coleman  &  Co.  v.  Union  of  India [(1972)2 SCC 788], this Court also held that  the  freedom  of  press       means right of citizens to speak, publish and express their views  as well as right of people to read and  in  Odyssey  Communications  (P) Ltd. v. Lokvidayan Sanghatana [(1988) 3  SCC  410],  this  Court  has further held that freedom of speech and expression includes the right of citizens to exhibit films on Doordarshan.

 31. This Court also went into the question whether receiving  information or education by a citizen was part of his right to freedom of  speech and expression in Secretary, Ministry of Information &  Broadcasting, Government of India & Ors. v. Cricket Association of  Bengal  &  Ors. (supra) and held that the right to freedom of speech  and  expression in Article 19(1(a) of the Constitution  will  not  only  include  the right  to  impart  information  but  also  the   right   to   receive       information.  In his opinion, P.B. Sawant, J. observed that the right to freedom of speech  and  expression  also  includes  the  right  to educate, to inform  and  to  entertain  and  also  the  right  to  be educated,  informed  and  entertained.   In  line  with  the  earlier       decisions of this Court, we are of the view that the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of  the  Constitution includes the freedom of a child to be educated at the  primary  stage of school in a language of the choice of  the  child  and  the  State cannot impose controls on such choice just because it thinks that  it will be more beneficial for the child if he is taught in the  primary stage of school in his mother tongue.  We,  therefore,  hold  that  a child or on his behalf his parent or guardian, has a right to freedom of choice with regard to the medium of instruction in which he  would like to be educated at the primary stage in school.  We cannot accept the submission of the learned Advocate  General  that  the  right  to freedom  of  speech  and  expression  in  Article  19(1)(a)  of   the Constitution does not include the right of a child or on  his  behalf his parent or guardian, to choose the medium of  instruction  at  the  stage of primary school.  

32. We cannot also accept the submission of Mr. Bhat that if the right to freedom  of  speech  and  expression  in  Article  19(1)(a)  of   the Constitution is held to include the right to  choose  the  medium  of instruction at the stage of primary school, then the State will  have no  power  under  clause  (2)  of  Article  19  to   put   reasonable restrictions on the right to freedom of speech and expression  except in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India,  the  security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States,  public  order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of  court,  defamation or incitement to an offence.  In our view,  the  Constitution  makers did not intend to empower the State to impose reasonable restrictions on the valuable right to  freedom  of  speech  and  expression  of  a citizen except for the purposes mentioned in clause (2) of Article 19 of  the  Constitution  because  they  thought  that  imposing   other       restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression will be  harmful to the development of the personality of the individual  citizen  and will not be in the larger interest of the nation.  In  the  words  of Pantanjali Shastri speaking for the majority of the judges in  Romesh Thappar v. The State of Madras (supra):

            “Thus, very  narrow  and  stringent  limits  have  been  set  to permissible

legislative abridgment of the right of  free  speech and expression and this was doubtless  due  to  the  realisation that freedom of speech and of the press lay at the foundation of all  democratic  organisations,  for  without   free   political discussion no public education,  so  essential  for  the  proper  functioning of the processes of popular Government, is possible. A freedom of such amplitude might involve risks of abuse.   But the framers of the Constitution may  well  have  reflected  with Madison who was ‘the leading spirit in the  preparation  of  the  First Amendment of the Federal Constitution’, that “it is better  leave a few of its noxious branches to  their  luxuriant  growth than, by pruning them  away,  to  injure  the  vigour  of  those yielding the proper fruits” (Quoted in Near v.  Minnesotta,  283 U.S. 607 at 717-8).”

 Therefore, once we come to the conclusion that the  freedom  of  speech  and expression will include the right of a child to be educated  in  the  medium of instruction of his choice, the only  permissible  limits  of  this  right will be those covered under clause (2) of Article  19  of  the  Constitution and we cannot exclude such right of a child from the  right  to  freedom  of speech and expression only for the reason that the State will have no  power to impose reasonable restrictions on this right of the  child  for  purposes other than those mentioned in Article 19(2) of the Constitution.  

33.  We may now consider whether the view taken by the High Court in  the  impugned judgment that the right to choose a medium of instruction is  implicit in the right to education under Articles 21 and 21A  of  the Constitution is correct.  Article 21  of  the  Constitution  provides that no person shall be deprived of  his  life  or  personal  liberty except according to procedure established by law.  In Unni  Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. (supra), a Constitution  Bench  of  this  Court  has  held  that  under  Article  21  of   the Constitution every child/citizen of this country has a right to  free  education until he completes the age of 14 years.  Article 21A of the Constitution  provides  that  the  State  shall  provide   free   and compulsory education to all children of the age of  six  to  fourteen years in such manner as the State  may,  by  law,  determine.   Under Articles 21 and 21A of the Constitution, therefore,  a  child  has  a  fundamental right to claim from the State free education upto the age       of 14 years.  The language of Article 21A of the Constitution further makes it clear that such free education which a child can claim  from the State will be in a manner as the State may,  by  law,  determine.

      If, therefore, the State determines by law that in schools where free education is provided under Article  21A  of  the  Constitution,  the medium of instruction would  be  in  the  mother  tongue  or  in  any language, the child cannot claim as of  right  under  Article  21  or       Article 21A of the Constitution that he has a  right  to  choose  the medium of instruction in which the education should  be  imparted  to him by the State.  The High Court, in our considered opinion, was not right in coming to the conclusion that the right to choose  a  medium of instruction is implicit in the right to education  under  Articles 21 and 21A of the Constitution.   Our  answer  to  Question  No.(ii), therefore, is that a child, and on his behalf his parent or guardian, has the right to choose the medium  of  instruction  at  the  primary school stage under Article 19(1)(a)  and  not  under  Article  21  or Article 21A of the Constitution.  

34.  Question No.(iii): Does the imposition of mother tongue in  any  way  affect the fundamental rights under Article 14, 19, 29 and 30 of  the  Constitution?

 As the High Court has not come to the conclusion in  the  impugned  judgment that imposition of mother tongue in any way affects  the  fundamental  right under Article 14 of the Constitution, it is not necessary for us  to  decide this question. We will have to decide whether imposition  of  mother  tongue in any way affects the fundamental rights under Articles 19, 29  and  30  of the Constitution.

 35. Articles 29(1) and 30(1) of the Constitution are quoted hereinbelow:

       29. Protection of interests of minorities:- (1)  Any  section  of  the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.

 30.Right  of  minorities  to  establish  and  administer   educational institutions:- (1)  All  minorities,  whether  based  on  religion  or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” 

 A reading of clause (1) of Article 29 of the Constitution provides that  any section of the citizens residing in the  territory  of  India  or  any  part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall  have the right to conserve the same and clause (1) of Article  30  provides  that all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the  right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

 36. In D.A.V. College, Bhatinda, etc. v.  The  State  of  Punjab  &  Ors. (supra), the Punjabi  University  in  exercise  of  its  power  under Section 4(2) of Punjabi University Act (35 of 1961), made Punjabi the sole medium of instruction and examination in all colleges affiliated under Punjabi University.  It was contended inter  alia  before  this Court that prescription of such medium of instruction and examination in a language which is not the mother tongue of  the  minority  which       has established the  educational  institution  is  violative  of  the rights conferred under clause (1) of Article 29  and  clause  (1)  of Article 30 of the Constitution and the  Constitution  Bench  of  this Court has upheld this contention in the following words:

           “The right of the  minorities  to  establish  and  administer educational institutions of their choice would include the right to have a choice of the medium of instruction also  which  would be the result of reading Article 30(1) with Article 29(1).”  

Thus, a Constitution Bench of this Court in D.A.V. College,  Bhatinda,  etc. v. The State of Punjab & Ors. (supra) has already held that minorities  have a right to establish  and  administer  educational  institutions  of  ‘their choice’,  and therefore they have the choice of  medium  of  instruction  in which education  will  be  imparted  in  the  institutions  established  and administered by them.

 37. The contention of the learned Advocate General, however, is that  the aforesaid decision and  other  decisions  of  this  Court  have  been rendered in cases where the State imposed a medium of instruction  in a language different from the language of the minority community, but       if the State prescribes the medium of instruction to  be  the  mother tongue of the child, which is the language of the minority community, there is no violation of the right of the linguistic  minority  under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.  We do not find any merit in  this contention because this Court has also held that the “choice” of  the minority community  under  Article  30(1)  need  not  be  limited  to imparting education in the language of the minority community.  In re       The Kerala Education Bill, 1957 (supra), S.R. Das,  CJ,  writing  the majority opinion of a seven Judge Bench of this Court, held:  

           “23. Having disposed of the minor point referred  to  above,  we now take up the

main argument  advanced  before  us  as  to  the content of Art. 30(1).  The first point  to  note  is  that  the article gives certain rights not only  to  religious  minorities but also to linguistic minorities.  In the next place, the right conferred  on  such  minorities  is  to  establish   educational institutions of their choice.  It does not say  that  minorities based on religion should establish educational institutions  for teaching religion only, or  that  linguistic  minorities  should have  the  right  to  establish  educational  institutions   for teaching their language only.  What the article says  and  means is that the religious and the linguistic minorities should  have the right to establish educational institutions of their choice. There is no limitation placed on the subjects to be  taught  in such  educational  institutions.   As such   minorities   will ordinarily desire that  their  children  should  be  brought  up properly and efficiently and be eligible for  higher  university education and go out in  the  world  fully  equipped  with  such intellectual attainments as will make them fit for entering  the public services, educational institutions of their  choice  will necessarily  include  institutions  imparting  general   secular education also.  In other words, the article leaves it to  their choice to establish such educational institutions as will  serve both purposes, namely, the purpose of conserving their religion, language or culture, and also the purpose of giving a  thorough, good general education to their children.”  

  38. We may now examine whether  an  unaided  non-minority  school  has  a similar right  to  choose  a  medium  of  instruction  under  Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution at  the  primary  school  stage.   Under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, a  citizen  has  the  right  to  practise any profession, or to carry  on  any  occupation,  trade  or business.  In T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors. v. State  of  Karnataka  & Ors. (supra), Kirpal C.J. writing the majority  judgment  interpreted  this right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution to include  the  right to establish and run educational institutions.  In paragraph 25 of the aforesaid judgment in T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra), the majority judgment held:

           “The establishment and running  of  an  educational  institution where a large

number of persons  are  employed  as  teachers  or administrative staff, and an activity is carried on that results in the imparting of knowledge to the students, must  necessarily be regarded as an occupation, even if there  is  no  element  of profit  generation.   It  is  difficult   to   comprehend   that education,  per  se,  will  not  fall  under  any  of  the  four expressions in  Article  19(1)(g).   “Occupation”  would  be  an activity of a person undertaken as a means of  livelihood  or  a mission in life. ”  

Thus, the word “occupation” in Article  19(1)(g)  of  the  Constitution  was interpreted by the majority judgment of this Court in T.M.A. Pai  Foundation & Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra), to include the  activity  which results in imparting of knowledge to  the  students  even  if  there  is  no element of profit generation in  such  activity.   However,  unlike  Article 30(1)  of  the  Constitution,  Article  19(1)(g)  does  not  have  the  word “choice”.  The absence of the word  “choice”,  in  our  considered  opinion, does not make a material difference because we find that Article 19  of  the Constitution is titled “Right to Freedom” and the word “freedom” along  with the word “any” before the word  “occupation”  in  Article  19(1)(g)  of  the Constitution would mean that  the  right  to  establish  and  administer  an educational institution will include the right of a citizen to  establish  a school for imparting education in a medium of  instruction  of  his  choice. If a citizen thinks that he should establish a school and in such a  school, the medium of instruction should  be  a  particular  language  then  he  can exercise such right subject to the reasonable regulations made by the  State under Article 19(6) of the Constitution.  We  are  thus  of  the  considered opinion that a private unaided school which is not  a  minority  school  and which does not enjoy the protection of  Articles  29(1)  and  30(1)  of  the Constitution can choose a medium of instruction for imparting  education  to the children in the school.

 39.  It is, however, well settled that all educational  institutions  can be subject to regulations by the State for inter alia maintenance  of proper academic standards.  While discussing the right  to  establish and administer an educational institution under Article  19(1)(g)  of the Constitution, Kirpal C.J., speaking for the majority of Judges in T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors. v. State of Karnataka  &  Ors.  (supra),  held:  

            “The right to  establish  an  educational  institution  can  be regulated; but such regulatory measures must, in general, be  to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards,  atmosphere and  infrastructure  (including   qualified   staff)   and   the prevention  of  maladministration  by   those   in   charge   of management……”  

Again, in the majority judgment in T.M.A. Pai Foundation & Ors. v. State  of Karnataka & Ors. (supra), Kirpal  C.J.  while  discussing  the  right  of  a minority educational  institution  protected  under  Article  30(1)  of  the Constitution;  

           “……It  was  permissible  for  the authorities to prescribe regulations, which must be

complied  with,  before  a  minority institution could seek or retain  affiiation  and  recognition. But it  was  also  stated  that  the  regulations  made  by  the authority should not impinge upon the minority character of  the institution.  Therefore, a balance has to be  kept  between  the two objectives – that of ensuring the standard of excellence  of the institution,  and  that  of  preserving  the  right  of  the  minorities  to  establish  and  administer   their   educational institutions......”  

Thus, whether it is a private unaided institution enjoying the  right  under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution or whether it is a private  institution enjoying the special protection of  a  minority  institution  under  Article 30(1) of the Constitution, the State  has  the  power  to  adopt  regulatory measures which must satisfy  the  test  of  reasonableness.   Moreover,  the State may exercise this regulatory power  either  by  making  a  law  or  by issuing an executive order.

  40.  The learned Advocate General for the State of  Karnataka  relied  on  the judgment of this  Court in  Gujarat  University  &  Anr.  v.  Shri Krishna Ranganath Mudholkar & Ors. (supra) to submit that this  power to prescribe regulations for maintaining the standards  of  education       would include the power to prescribe the medium of  instruction.   We  quote the relevant portion of the decision of the Constitution  Bench of this Court in Gujarat University & Anr. v. Shri Krishna  Ranganath Mudholkar & Ors. (supra) on which he has placed reliance:  

           “23.…..The power to legislate in respect of primary or secondary education is exclusively

vested in the States by item  No.II  of List II, and power to legislate  on  medium  of  instruction  in institutions of primary or secondary  education  must  therefore rest with the State Legislatures.  Power to legislate in respect  of medium of instruction is, however, not  distinct  legislative head; it resides with the State Legislatures in which the  power  to legislate on education is vested, unless it is taken away  by necessary intendment to the contrary.  Under items 63 to 65  the power to legislate in respect of medium  of  instruction  having  regard to the width of those items, must be deemed  to  vest  in  the Union. Power  to  legislate  in  respect  of  medium   of instruction, in so far it has a direct bearing and  impact  upon the legislative  head  of  co-ordination  and  determination  of standards in institutions of higher education  or  research  and scientific and technical institutions, must also  be  deemed  by item 66 List I to be vested in the Union.”  

From the aforesaid quotation, we find that the Constitution Bench  has  held that under the scheme of distribution  of  legislative  powers  between  the States and the Union, the power  to  legislate  in  respect  of  primary  or secondary education is exclusively vested in  the  States  and  has  further held that in exercise of this power the State can prescribe  the  medium  of instruction.  The Constitution Bench, however, has not held that this  power of the State to prescribe the medium of instruction in primary or  secondary schools can be exercised in contravention of  the  rights  guaranteed  under Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.  The  Constitution  Bench has only held that if the medium of instruction  has  a  direct  bearing  or impact  on  the  determination  of  standards  in  institutions  of   higher education, the legislative power can be exercised by the Union to  prescribe a medium of instruction.  For example, prescribing English as  a  medium  of instruction in subjects of higher education for  which  only  English  books are available and which can only be properly taught in English  may  have  a direct bearing and impact on the determination of  standards  of  education. Prescribing the medium of instruction in schools to be mother tongue in  the primary school stage in classes I to IV has, however, no direct bearing  and impact on the determination of standards of education, and will  affect  the fundamental  rights  under   Articles   19(1)(a)   and   19(1)(g)   of   the Constitution.  

41. We may now consider the decision of the Division Bench of this  Court in English Medium Students Parents Association v. State of  Karnataka & Ors. (supra) on which reliance has been  placed  by  the  State  of Karnataka.  In paragraph 20 at page 560 of the aforesaid decision  as reported in the SCC, this Court has held that all educational experts are uniformly of the opinion that pupils should begin their schooling through the medium of their mother tongue and  the  reason  for  this      opinion is that if the tender minds of the children are subject to an alien medium, the learning process becomes unnatural and  inflicts  a cruel strain on the children which makes the entire learning  process  mechanical, artificial and torturous but if the  basic  knowledge  is imparted through mother tongue, the  young  child  will  be  able  to garner knowledge  easily.   In  paragraph  17  at  page  559  of  the  aforesaid judgment, the Division Bench of this Court has  also  given      the reasons why it did not find the impugned Government order  to  be ultra vires Articles 14, 29(1) and 30(1) of the Constitution.   These reasons are quoted hereinbelow:

           “16. In view of the liberty given to the State of Karnataka  the present GO bearing No.87

PROU SE BHA 88,  Bangalore  dated  June 19, 1989 (quoted above) has come to be  passed.   A  corrigendum   also came to be issue on June 22, 1989 which reads as under:

 

“For para (i) of Order portion of the  abovesaid  Government Order dated June 19, 1989 i.e., from  the  words  ‘From  Ist standard …. subject to study’ the following  para  shall  be substituted:

 

                ‘From Ist standard to IVth standard, where  it  is  expected that  normally

mother  tongue  will  be   the   medium   of instruction, only one  language  from  Appendix  I  will  be compulsory subject of study.’

 

           17. A careful reading of the above  GO  would  clearly  indicate that the element of

compulsion at the primary stage is no longer there because the GO is unequivocal when it  says  from  Ist  to IVth standards mother tongue will be the medium of  instruction, only one language from Appendix I will be compulsory subject  of study.  From IIIrd standard onwards Kannada will  be  an  option  subject for non-Kannada speaking students.  It is to  be  taught on voluntary basis there being no examination at the end of  the year in Kannada language……”  

Thus, the reasons given by the Division Bench of this Court  to  uphold  the Government order of the State of Karnataka dated  19.06.1989  are  that  the Government had issued a corrigendum on  22.06.1989  and  a  reading  of  the Government order after the corrigendum would show that there was no  element of  compulsion  at  the  primary  stage  any  longer  that  the  medium   of instruction from I standard to IV standard would be in mother  tongue.   The decision of this Court in English Medium  Students  Parents  Association  v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra), is, therefore, not an authority  for  the proposition that prescription of mother tongue in classes I  to  IV  in  the primary school can be compelled by the State as  a  regulatory  measure  for maintaining the standards of education.

 42. We are of the considered opinion  that  though  the  experts  may  be uniform in their opinion that children studying in classes I to IV in the primary school can learn better  if  they  are  taught  in  their mother  tongue,  the  State  cannot  stipulate  as  a  condition  for       recognition that the medium of instruction  for children studying  in classes I to IV in minority schools protected  under  Articles  29(1) and 30(1) of the Constitution and in private unaided schools enjoying the right to carry on any occupation under Article  19(1)(g)  of  the  Constitution would be the mother  tongue  of  the  children  as  such  stipulation.  We accordingly answer question No.(iii) referred to  us and hold that the imposition of mother tongue affects the fundamental       rights under Articles 19, 29 and 30 of the Constitution.

 43. Question No.(iv):  Whether  the  Government  recognized  schools  are  inclusive of both government-aided  schools  and  private  &  unaided  schools?”

 In Unni Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. v. State of Andhra  Pradesh  &  Ors.  (supra), Jeevan Reddy J. writing the judgment for himself  and  for  Pandian  J.  has held  in  paragraph  204  at  page  753  that  the  right  to  establish  an educational institution does not carry with it the right to  recognition  or the right to affiliation and that recognition and affiliation are  essential for  meaningful  exercise  of  the  right  to   establish   and   administer educational institutions.  In this judgment, the two Judges  of  this  Court have also held that recognition may be granted either by the  Government  or by  any  other  authority  or  body  empowered  to  accord  recognition  and affiliation  may  be  granted  by  the  academic  body  empowered  to  grant affiliation.  In this judgment, the two Judges of this  Court  have  further held that it is open to a person to establish  an  educational  institution, admit  students,   impart   education,   conduct   examination   and   award certificates but the educational institution has no  right  to  insist  that the  certificates  or  degrees  awarded  by  such  institution   should   be recognized by the State and therefore  the  institution  has  to  seek  such recognition or affiliation from the appropriate agency.   In  the  aforesaid case of Unni Krishnan, J.P. &  Ors.  v.  State  of  Andhra  Pradesh  &  Ors. (supra), S. Mohan J.  in  his  concurring  judgment  has  also  observed  in paragraph 76 at page 693 that recognition is for the purpose  of  conforming to the standards laid down by the State and affiliation is  with  regard  to the syllabi and the courses of study  and  unless  and  until  they  are  in accordance with the  prescription  of  the  affiliating  body,  certificates cannot be conferred and hence the  educational  institution  is  obliged  to follow the syllabi and the course of the study.  These  views  expressed  by the three Judges in the Constitution Bench judgment of this  Court  in  Unni Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. v. State of Andhra Pradesh &  Ors.  (supra)  have  not been departed from in the majority judgment in T.M.A. Pai Foundation &  Ors. v. State of Karnataka & Ors. (supra).  Kirpal C.J. writing the  judgment  in T.M.A. Pai Foundation (supra) on behalf of  the  majority  Judges  has  held that the fundamental right to establish an  educational  institution  cannot be confused with the right to ask for recognition or affiliation.  From  the aforesaid discussion of the law as developed by  this  Court,  it  is  clear that all schools, whether they are established by the Government or  whether they are aided by the Government or  whether  they  are  not  aided  by  the Government,  require  recognition  to  be  granted  in  accordance  of   the provisions  of  the  appropriate  Act  or  Government  order.   Accordingly, Government  recognized  schools  will  not  only  include  government  aided schools but also unaided schools which have been granted recognition.  

44. Question No.(v): whether the State can by virtue of Article 350-A  of the Constitution compel the linguistic  minorities  to  choose  their mother tongue only as medium of instruction in primary schools ? We have extracted Article  350A  of  the  Constitution  above  and  we  have noticed that in this Article it is provided that it shall be  the  endeavour of every State and of every local authority  within  the  State  to  provide adequate facilities for instruction in the  mother  tongue  at  the  primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups.   We have already held that a linguistic minority  under  Article  30(1)  of  the Constitution has the right to choose the  medium  of  instruction  in  which education will be imparted in the primary stages of the school which it  has established.  Article 350A therefore cannot be interpreted  to  empower  the State to compel a linguistic minority to choose its mother tongue only as  a medium of instruction in a primary school established by it in violation  of this fundamental right under Article 30(1).  We accordingly hold that  State has  no  power  under  Article  350A  of  the  Constitution  to  compel  the linguistic minorities to choose their mother tongue  only  as  a  medium  of instruction in primary schools.  

45.    In view of our answers to the questions referred to  us,  we  dismiss Civil Appeal Nos.5166-5190 of 2013, 5191-5199  of  2013,  the  Civil  Appeal arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.32858 of 2013 and Writ Petition (C)  No.290  of 2009.  There shall be no order as to costs.

 

                                     (R.M. Lodha) ……..……………..……………………CJI

                                     (A. K. Patnaik) .....……………..……………………….J

                                     (Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya)..…………..............….J.

                                     (Dipak Misra) .....……………..……………...………….J.

                                     (Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla)….............………..J.

New Delhi,

May 06, 2014.

 

 

 

 

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