New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the government and the UPSC on a petition challenging the new pattern for an English paper in the preliminary examination for civil services.

Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri sought the responses by March 14 after the petitioner said the pattern deprived a vast majority of Indians who had studied in Hindi or any Indian language from fairly competing in the exam.

The public interest litigation (PIL) challenged a new system of the Union Public Service Commission making 'English Language Comprehension Skills' a compulsory topic.

Till 2010, candidates to the IAS pre-examination were required to answer two objective type question papers; one for General Knowledge and one on a subject of his/her choice.

From 2011, candidates were expected to take an aptitude test for the preliminary examination. The aptitude test carries 200 marks, and about 22.5 marks were allotted to "English Language Comprehension Skills".

According to the petitioner, the new pattern was discriminatory as it denies an equal competing platform to those aspirants who had studied in Hindi or any Indian language.

"Hindi is the basis of Indian culture and making English compulsory will strike a body blow to wipe off India's rich cultural heritage from its roots. Hindi and other classical languages have to be given their rightful place in the educational system and in civil services," the petition said.

The petitioner contended that the central government had not consulted the committee on official language, Central Committee of Joint Secretaries dealing with official languages, and the official language Implementation Committee while implementing the new pattern.