Education In Mother Tongue Important For Child’s Foundation, Says CJI Bobde

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New Delhi: Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Tuesday said that it is important that a child learns in the mother tongue to build the foundation, and disagreed with the submissions that lawyers who studied in vernacular languages find it difficult to argue in the Supreme Court.

A plea was made by the Andhra Pradesh government which challenged the state High Court order striking down its decision to make English medium mandatory for classes I to VI in government schools from 2020-21 session. The bench also comprised Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

Appearing for the state, senior counsel KV Viswanathan submitted that lack of proficiency in the language limits opportunities and creates “islands of exclusion”, said The Indian Express.

Viswanathan stated that he himself comes from a place 40 km from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and has friends who studied in vernacular medium but find it difficult to practice in the Supreme Court because they think in vernacular and then translate. And by the time they speak, the miscellaneous matters would have finished, he submitted.

In the counter, senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayanan, appearing for the respondent, said that one of the judges on the bench, Justice Ramasubramaian, had studied in Tamil medium.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also added that many judges had their education in vernacular medium.

CJI Bobde said that Viswanathan’s example was ‘inappropriate’. Viswanathan said he meant that they may not be able to argue at par with those who have studied in the English medium. But the CJI observed that even after one finishes school, by the time an advocate reaches the Supreme Court, there is a lot of learning period in between, during which they can learn English and also the art of public speaking. “But (their) foundation is very important,” Viswanathan contended.

The CJI said mother tongue is important for foundation and that India is perhaps the only country where education does not start in a child’s mother tongue. He also cited examples of China, France, etc, where the medium of instruction is the mother tongue.

CJI Bobde adding further said that he is in agreement on the importance of the English language, and added that there are different views among experts regarding the medium of instruction.

Viswanathan pressed for a stay of the High Court order that said it will consider the prayer in the next hearing.

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