KUMARI MEENA CHITLE Vs. BOARD OF SECONDARY EDUCATION
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
KUMARI MEENA CHITLE, JABALPUR
BOARD OF SECONDARY EDUCATION, M. P., BHOPAL
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DIXIT C. J -
(1.) THIS application under Article 226 of the Constitution is by a girl pupil studying in Maharashtra Higher Secondary School, Jabalpur, where the medium of instruction is Marathi. The petitioner is studying in Class-XI, and intends to appear for the Higher Secondary School Certificate Examination to be held in March, 1967. The subjects she has chosen for the Examination are Biology, Physics and Chemistry. On 29th September 1966 the Secretary of the Board of Secondary Education sent a communication to all the Principals of recognized institutions and schools informing them that in accordance with the decision of the Board of Secondary Education (hereinafter referred to as the Board) the question papers at the examinations conducted by the Board in 1967 and thereafter would be set only in English and Hindi. On receipt of this communication, the Principal of the respondent No. 3-school where the petitioner is studying informed her guardian of this decision of the Board and requested him to prepare the petitioner for the examination accordingly. Finding that the Board had rejected the representations of several persons to set papers for several subjects in Marathi for the Higher Secondary School Certificate Examination, 1967, the applicant has now filed this application challenging the validity of the decision of the Board to set papers only in English and Hindi for the 1967 examination. The petitioner prays that the determination of the Board of Secondary Education to set papers for various subjects only in English and Hindi be quashed by the issue of a writ of certiorari and the Board be commanded to set question papers in Marathi also.
(2.) THE applicant says that she has all along been taught the subjects in which she intends to appear at the 1967 examination in Marathi and with the aid of books written in Marathi language; that she is not familiar with the English or Hindi technical terms used in Biology, Physics and Chemistry; and that, therefore, she will not be able to answer the question papers in the aforesaid subjects if they were to be set in English or Hindi; and further if the question papers were not to be set in Marathi language, then the entire purpose and object of teaching the students through the medium of Marathi would be defeated. THE petitioner contends that the Board having recognized the respondent No. 3 school as an institution for preparing candidates for the Higher Secondary School Certificate Examination -with Marathi as the medium of instruction is under a legal obligation to set papers in Marathi language for the benefit of students appearing at the said examination "who have been taught through Marathi medium and that the petitioner has a legal right to claim that the question papers should be set in Marathi.
In the return filed on behalf of the respondents opposing the petition it is not denied that the medium of instruction in the school where the petitioner is studying in Marathi and that the applicant has been taught the various subjects she has selected for the 1967 examination in Marathi language. The respondents, however, deny that the applicant has any legal right to demand that the question papers should be set in Marathi. They say that-
"The suggestion that because the medium is Marathi, therefore, the paper must be set in Marathi language is mischievous. The medium of teaching and answering examination paper is distinct and different from the medium in which paper might be set".
It is admitted that question papers had been set in languages besides English and Hindi for the 1966 examination and the examinations held earlier. But, according to the respondents, it is entirely in the discretion of the Board whether to set question papers only in English or Hindi or any other language. It has been further stated in the return that the petitioner's grievance that she will not be able to understand papers set in English and Hindi for Biology, Physics and Chemistry is only imaginary inasmuch as English and Hindi languages are compulsory for all students and even when the medium of instruction is Marathi or any other regional language, technical terms of any subject are taught in English.
In regard to the circumstances in which the Board reached the decision, on 15/16th July 1966 of setting question papers only in English and Hindi languages, it has been stated that translation of question papers in various languages was mainly responsible for leakage of question papers on large scale as happened at the Higher Secondary School Certificate Examination held in 1966 and it was in order to reduce this risk of leakage that the Board on the recommendation dated 30th June 1966 of the Executive Committee of the Board and the recommendation dated 13th July 1966 of the Curriculum Committee of the Board decided to set and print question papers only in English and Hindi for the 1967 examination and the examinations to be held thereafter. In their return, the respondents have endeavoured to point out the difficulties in making available at this late stage question papers set in languages other than English and Hindi at 414 examination-centres when the examination is to commence from 6th March 1967.
(3.) IT is obvious from the foregoing statement of the petitioner's case and of the reply of the respondents thereto that the question to be determined in this petition is as regards the validity of the decision taken by the Board on 15 /16th July 1966 to set question papers only in English and Hindi and not any other languages as was done for the examinations held in 1966 and earlier years. This question is of general importance, for it involves a claim by the Board to restrict the language of the papers set for various subjects according to the Board's choice.
In order to see how far this claim is tenable, it is necessary to refer to the material provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Secondary Education Act, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) and the Regulations intituled "the Board of Secondary Education, Madhya Pradesh Regulations, 1959, made thereunder (hereinafter called the Regulations). The preamble to the Act says that it is "An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the establishment of a Board to regulate Secondary Education in Madhya Pradesh". Section 8 of the Act defines the powers of the Board constituted thereunder. The Board has, inter alia, powers to prescribe courses of instruction in such branches of Secondary Education as it may think fit; to admit to its examinations, on conditions that may be prescribed, candidates who have pursued the prescribed courses of instruction; to recognise institutions whether situated in or outside Madhya Pradesh for the purposes of admitting them to the privileges of the Board; and to do all other things ancillary to any of the purposes specified in section 8, or for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of the Act. By section 20 it is provided that the Board shall appoint the Committees enumerated therein. These Committees include an Examination Committee, a Curriculum Committee and an Executive Committee. Under section 21 the Board can delegate its powers by regulations to the Committees constituted under section 20. Section 21 says:-
"21. Exercise of powers delegated by Board to Committees, etc. All matters relating to the exercise by the Board of powers conferred upon it by this Act which have, by regulations been delegated by the Board to any Committee appointed under section 20 shall stand referred to that Committee, and the Board before exercising any such powers shall receive and consider the report of the Committee with respect to the matter in question: Provided that where in the opinion of the Board immediate action is necessary with respect to any such matter, it may proceed to deal with it without the report of the Committee in respect thereof and pass such orders thereon as it considers necessary".
Section 22 gives to the Board the power to make regulations for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of the Act and in particular for providing for any of the matters enumerated in section 22(2). In exercise of this power to make regulations, the Board can make regulations providing, inter alia, for the conditions of recognition of institutions for the purposes of admission to the privileges of the Board, the conditions under which candidates shall be admitted to the examinations of the Board and the conduct of examinations.;
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