Examine introduction of English test in UPSC, HC tells centre

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) Delhi High Court has directed the central government to form a panel to examine a plea against the UPSC’s decision to introduce a compulsory English skill test in the prelims of the civil service examinations since 2011.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the centre to set up the committee within three months and take a decision on the issue in nine months.

The court’s direction came on a plea filed by retired professor Dinanath Batra alleging that the test of English Language Comprehension Skills adversely affects the Hindi and other regional language speaking candidates in taking the civil services exam.

The bench disposed off the plea and directed the central government to constitute a committee within three months in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and take a decision within nine months on the nature of the test of knowledge of English language in the civil services examination.

The bench recorded the submissions of the UPSC that “superior knowledge of English gives a cutting edge to the civil servants who have to deal with global affairs and which would be a reasonable classification”.

The bench relied on court rulings which had held that every educational institution has right to determine its method of education and conditions of examination, such are matters of policy to be formulated by the state and the courts are not the forum to adjudicate upon such questions.

The bench asked the UPSC to “relook into the matter”.

The petition added that the UPSC introduced a new Aptitude Test paper of 200 marks in 2011 containing an English Language Comprehension Skill section worth 22.50 marks, to be answered compulsorily by all candidates.

The plea said that Hindi is the basis of Indian culture and making English compulsory will strike a body blow to wipe off India’s rich cultural heritage from its roots. “Hindi and other classical languages have to be given their rightful place in the educational system and in civil services,” it added.

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