RTE and the MINORITY INSTITUTIONS

                        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  1994-95  in  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   primary

        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 instruction at 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  the

      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 this 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  remember  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  affiliation  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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