The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that "it is important for a child to learn in mother tongue" when it was hearing an appeal by the Andhra Pradesh government against a High Court order.
"About 96 per cent of parents in Andhra Pradesh want their children in English medium schools and those opting for (the) Telugu medium, every Mandal has a Telugu medium school and transport is free," senior lawyer KV Viswanathan - representing the Andhra Pradesh government - told the top court on Tuesday.
The top court was hearing the state government's petition after its decision to make it mandatory for schools to impart education in English - for students from Class 1 to 6 - was cancelled by the high court. "English cannot be kept with rich and powerful and poor students cannot pay huge fee for English medium," he added.
Chief Justice SA Bobde, replying to the arguments, said: "Question of (imparting education) in English or vernacular... these are not divergent views. If you go to China or Russia, the children are taught in their own language, and not a foreign language."
"We must know, for the foundation, it is important for a child to learn through mother tongue," he further said.
"Personally, I may agree with you. We want to see the overall picture and decide," the Chief Justice added.
Mr Viswanathan, while giving a counter viewpoint, suggested: "If you don't study in English medium, you cannot appear in the Supreme Court and argue."
However, the viewpoint, was opposed by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan.
Gopal Sankaranarayanan pointed out that one of the judges in the bench - Justice V Ramasubramanian - studied in a Tamil-medium school.
The Chief Justice, replying to the lawyer, said, "You are giving an example and painting a picture that those who study in Telegu are unable to argue in Supreme Court. After school, and by the time advocates come to court, (there's a) lot of learning period."
KV Vishwanathan explained his views by saying, "I have friends who studied in vernacular, think in vernacular, translate it in English and by the time they utter it, the miscellaneous cases are over."
The Supreme Court will hear the matter again next week.