London: An Indian couple has sought a judicial review of Britain immigration rule requiring immigrants to be able to speak English before they can move to Britain to join their spouse, saying the rule is a breach of human rights, a High court has heard.

Rashida Chapti, 54 -- a British citizen -- wants the law scrapped so that her 57-year-old husband Vali, an Indian national who cannot speak English, can join her.

The couple have been married for 37 years and have six children. Chapti has reportedly been travelling between India and England for 15 years and has now asked for her husband to join her.

Under immigration rules which came into force last November, he cannot do so due to an English language requirement, thought to be part of the government's pledge to reduce net migration.

The Chaptis and two other couples have begun proceedings to contest the rule. Speaking from her home in Leicester, Chapti told the Daily Telegraph her husband was too old to learn English.

"I just want to be with my husband. I miss him," she said. "I believe he has every right to be with me."

At the High Court in Birmingham, Manjit Gill, who is representing the Chaptis, told the court that the requirement to speak English contravenes several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said individuals have "certain core rights", such as the right to marry, to find a family, to cohabit and to live in a family unit, a family being an essential building
block of society.

"Someone who is settled here, someone who is a British citizen, is ordinarily entitled to have their spouse living with them, providing it is a genuine marriage, providing there is no recourse to public funds," he said.

Gill said the argument could also be applied to couples intending to marry where one is entitled to live in the UK.

He said the rule prevented people who are British citizens from living with their spouses, compounded "by the fact that the measure does this on grounds which are
blatantly, admittedly, racially discriminatory".

He said the rule would particularly affect people from the Indian subcontinent or part of the Middle East.

"This discrimination has a very significant impact on certain categories of British nationals or long-term settled persons here," he said.

"The rule is designed, putting it crudely, to keep out persons who tend to marry within their communities, who tend to have arranged marriages, who tend to be from the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East in particular."

He said the need for the language requirement would have to be justified very specifically.     Gill said suggestions that the rule would help integration and would save the public purse had not been proved.

He added that "very significant numbers" of people would be affected by the language requirement.