High Court notice to UPSC, Centre on language option issue
Delhi High Court on February 1 issued notices to the Central Department of Personnel & Training and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging a decision of the Department to make English compulsory for those students who opt for a language other than English as the medium for writing the Central Civil Services examinations.
Summoning original records on abasis of which the new pattern was decided, a division bench of the Court comprising acting Chief Justice Shri AK Sikri and Justice Shri Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the respondents to file replies to the petition by March 14, the next date of hearing.
The petitioners submitted that the decision of the Department had put students who had opted for their mother-tongue for writing the exams in a disadvantageous position in comparison to candidates who preferred English as the medium.
The petitioners included Shri Dina Nath Batra of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, retired IFS Shri OP Gupta, president of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Shri Mahesh Chand Sharma, director of ICS Academy Shri Naresh Vaid and two students—Bhaskar Singh from Agra and Shakti Singh from Delhi.
The petition filed through Advocate Jagdeep Dhankar and Monica Arora claimed that the move deprived a vast majority of Indians, who had studied in vernacular languages, of fairly competing in the civil services examination. Till 2010, candidates appearing for the examination were required to answer two objective type question papers; one on general knowledge and the other on a subject of his or her choice. From 2011 onwards, candidates are expected to take an aptitude test for the preliminary examination. The aptitude test carries 200 marks, and about 22.5 marks are allotted to English language comprehension skills.
The petitioners submitted that the decision also violated Article 16 of the Constitution of India, which states that “there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state. They urged the Court to quash the order issued by the Department making English compulsory for all the applicants for the services irrespective of the language they opted for writing the examination. Shri Batra also referred to Article 351 that says it’s the Centre’s duty to promote Hindi.
Talking to Organiser in New Delhi Shri Dina Nath Batra welcomed the High Court directive and said it would benefit the students who studied in their mother tongues and were going to be out in the first attempt itself. He said the decision now provided an equal playground to all the students.