The Supreme Court on Tuesday frowned upon the imposition of mother-tongue as a compulsory medium of instruction in educational institutions and warned it could go against the interests of students struggling in the present competitive world dominated by English language.
A three judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan felt if states try to impose their mother-tongue on unwilling students, it could turn counter-productive and make them ineligible even for clerical jobs.
"They are unable to get even clerical posts. It is easy to say things. How do we survive in the world?" the bench told the Karnataka government for its decision to impose Kannada language as a compulsory medium of instructions for Class 1 to 1V.
The apex court rejected the argument of senior counsel P P Rao appearing for the state who, quoting experts, claimed mother-tongue was essential to be imparted at an impressionable age for overall intellectual and cultural development of the child.
"Parents are ready to pay Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 for getting their children admitted in English medium schools. This is the real state of affairs. They do not want to send them to schools of their mother-tongue. It should be left to the parents," the bench observed.
The apex court said if mother-tongue is sought to be imposed on the students, it would only further aggravate the problems of those studying in villages.
"Otherwise, students from villages can't compete with their peers in urban areas," the bench observed.
The apex court made the remarks while refusing to stay a Karnataka High Court judgement which had quashed an order passed by the state government making it mandatory for all schools to have Kannada language alone as a medium of instruction in all government and private schools from Class 1 to 1V.
The high court also had asked the state to grant permission to those institutions which wanted to start new schools with English as a medium of instruction.