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Mridusmita Deka|Mar 30, 2023
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear on February 6 a plea challenging the Madras High Court order which had refused to quash the guidelines for granting exemption to students from giving the Tamil language paper in class 10 board examination. The High Court had in September 2019 said the government letter of July 18, 2016, which contained the guidelines for granting exemption to students from writing the Tamil language paper at the 10th standard board examination, cannot be quashed.
However, the High Court had directed the authorities concerned to grant exemption to students in linguistic minority schools from writing Tamil language paper in the 10th standard examination for the academic years 2020-2022. The matter came up for hearing on Monday before a bench comprising Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka. The counsel appearing for the petitioner - Linguistic Minorities Forum of Tamil Nadu -- told the bench about the plea in the high court and referred to the July 2016 letter.
The Supreme Court referred to the High Court order and said it has granted an exemption for the academic years 2020-2022. "We will examine it. The issue is what is to be done for the students," it observed. The bench told the lawyer appearing for Tamil Nadu that the state has said that those who migrated to the state will get an exemption. "Why don't you give an exemption to recognised linguistic minorities," the bench observed.
The Supreme Court, which posted the matter for hearing on February 6, said some arrangements have to be made for 2023 also since, as per the high court order, the exemption was granted for 2020-2022. The High Court had passed the September 2019 order on a batch of pleas, including those challenging the guidelines issued in the July 18, 2016 letter and also for a direction to authorities to grant exemption to students in linguistic minority member schools from writing Tamil language paper in 10th standard examination under part-I from the academic year 2016-17 till the academic year 2023-24.
It had noted that under the guidelines, only those students who have migrated from other states could apply for an exemption. The High Court had noted that the guidelines were issued regarding the time schedule and eligibility criteria for applying for exemption from writing the Tamil language under paper-I compulsory subject in the SSLC board examination 2017.
"The following guidelines are issued for consideration and disposal of applications for exemption from students seeking exemption from writing Tamil in the 10th standard board examination:- " a) students whose parents are in government service or in the employment of public sector undertakings/institutions/companies/ corporations/private employment/business or any other form of employment in other states and have been transferred/relocated to Tamil Nadu during the course of the academic year and who have not studied Tamil as a language in the school in the state from which they have migrated are eligible to apply," the letter said.
In its plea filed in the apex court, the Linguistic Minorities Forum of Tamil Nadu has contended that the substantial question of law that falls for consideration of the court is as to whether the rights of linguistic minorities guaranteed under the Constitution can be "infringed" by the state under the "garb of a state legislation which introduces Tamil as a compulsory language and consequently, restrains the students of linguistic minorities from learning their mother tongue".
"The guidelines in the form of letter... dated July 18, 2016 have all the attributes and trappings of being authoritarian by excluding the linguistic minorities of the state from seeking exemption from writing the Tamil language paper in 10th standard public examination,” the plea alleged.
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