New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday referred to a five-judge constitution bench the question whether a state government could impose the mother tongue or a regional language as the only medium of instruction in primary schools.

Referring the matter to the constitution bench, a bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, "The crux of all the grounds raised in the petition is that whether the mother-tongue or the regional language can be imposed by the state as the medium of instruction at the primary education stage."

Justice Sathasivam said, "The issue involved in this case concerns about the fundamental rights of not only the present generation but also the generations yet to be born."

The court's order came on the Karnataka government's petition challenging the state high court's July 2, 2008, order that exempted private unaided, religious and linguistic minority institutions from the mother-tongue or Kannada as medium of instruction.

The Karnataka government on April 29, 1994, had ordered that all the recognized schools in the state would have mother-tongue or Kannada as medium of instruction in the primary schools from the academic year 1994-95 and all those schools who did not fall in line would be closed.

Aggrieved schools contended that the government order was violative of Articles 14, 19(1) (a), 21, 29(2) and 30(1) of the Constitution.


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