Madras High Court on Monday declined to interfere with the grant of classical status to languages other than Tamil by the Central government. The court was disposing of petitions challenging the grant of classical status to Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Oriya and norms governing such conferment. First bench comprising Chief Justice S K Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan said an expert body set up for the purpose was satisfied that these languages met the criteria and the court could not go into the body's opinions and findings.
The bench had on July 13 last reserved its orders on the petitions filed by senior advocate R Gandhi who had challenged the norms governing the grant of the classical status and the status accorded to the four languages. “From the records it is evident that the expert body was satisfied that the languages comply with the eligibility criteria. Therefore, this court cannot go into the opinions and findings of the expert body,” the bench said in its order.
The court also said it disagreed with the petitioner's stand that the prominence of Tamil language would be lost if it was treated on par with the other languages, which have been conferred classical status. “We do not agree with the petitioner. The prominence of a language would not depend on the development or fall of other languages,” the bench said.
Rather the growth and importance can be attributed only to the usage of language and creative contribution in the forms of arts and literature, it said. The bench said it was for experts to verify that the languages satisfy the norms and recommend for the declaration of classical status.
Having satisfied themselves, the experts had recommended declaration of the languages in consideration to be classical. “Facts which made the expert body to recommend promulgation of such declaration has also been placed before us. As such we do not find any reason to interfere with the impugned declaration,” the judges said. Holding that the court cannot convert itself into a forum for debate on such matters, the bench said if the petitioner still felt that the languages in question did not satisfy the criteria for grant of classical status, it was open for him to approach the concerned authorities.
He can also make suggestions for determination of the type of literature that can be the benchmark for consideration of the language for classical status. The petitioner had sought a direction to the authorities to strictly abide and implement the November 25, 2015, criteria laid down by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for determining the eligibility of languages to be considered for classical status.