Karnataka High Court seeks Centre’s stand on making Kannada compulsory for undergraduate courses

The Karnataka government, in two different orders issued on August 7 and September 15, had notified its decision to make Kannada one of the two languages to be compulsorily taught in degree courses.

The Karnataka government’s decision to make Kannada a compulsory language for students pursuing undergraduate (UG) courses across disciplines has been redirected to the Centre, with the high court asking the latter to clarify its stand on the order.

The state government, in two different orders issued on August 7 and September 15, had notified its decision to make Kannada one of the two languages to be taught compulsorily in degree courses irrespective of the languages students followed up to Class 12 (or pre-university), their mother tongue or regional language, or the state they hail from. A public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by Samskrita Bharati (Karnataka) Trust and other educational institutions had questioned the legality of these government orders.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, while hearing these petitions on Monday, directed the Centre to make its stand clear on the issue. The case has been adjourned for further hearing till November 30.

However, state advocate-general (AG) Prabhuling K Navadgi clarified that the same was a policy decision by the government to promote Kannada. He also denied allegations made by the petitioners that imposing a language at the undergraduate level is contrary to the framework of National Education Policy (NEP, 2020).

The AG added that two levels of Kannada learning had been prescribed. He explained that one was designed for those who have studied Kannada before joining UG courses while the other was for those who enrol for UG courses from outside the state without having any knowledge of Kannada, with the latter being only functional Kannada to help students communicate in Kannada with the locals in the state.

Navadgi also claimed that no college or students had questioned making Kannada a compulsory subject as the admission for the academic year had already been completed with students registering for various courses accepting to study Kannada as a language.

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