Tri HC | Every State and local authority to provide adequate facilities for instruction in mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups? Court decides on PIL

Tripura High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ., and S.G. Chattopadhyay, J., decided upon a petition in the nature of Public Interest Litigation which was filed praying that the State authorities be directed to impart primary education to the children of Chakma Community in their mother tongue.

Counsel for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Mr P Roy Barman and Ms N. Ghosh argued that it was universally accepted that absorption of knowledge of a child of a young age was always best in his mother tongue. Attention was drawn towards Article 350A of the Constitution which provides that it shall be the endeavour of every State and local authority to provide adequate facilities for instruction in mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups.

In the previous hearing the Court had requested the State government to conduct a survey through the experts in the field which would cover (i) Approximate number of students of Chakma community studying in various Government primary schools in the State; (ii) A sample survey of how many of these students whose parents would enroll them in a school exclusively imparting education in Chakma medium; (iii) Approximate number of teachers required in different subjects if such a school of sizable students were to be established; (iv) The report may also state the issues concerning availability of text books, if any such attempt were to be made.

The expert committee formed by the State government had formed an opinion that publication of textbooks in all non-language subjects like Science, Mathematics, Social Studies etc. in Chakma language will not be possible to be carried out.

The Court suggested that starting a school of the kind would have multiple considerations of not only availability of resources, of training adequate number of teachers, preparing literature such as textbooks and reading material as also other factors which would not immediately come to the mind of the Court.

The Court not joining an issue with the contentions of counsel for the petitioners that medium of instruction in a child’s mother tongue would ensure the highest absorption and that even otherwise as per Article 350A of the Constitution, the State is required to make an endeavour to provide sufficient facilities for imparting education in a mother tongue at primary level the students of linguistic minorities, left the decision on the State government. Court suggested the petitioner approached the Secretary, Education with full data and details in support of his demands.[Samir Chakma v. State of Tripura, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 115, decided on 01-03-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together.

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