(Prayers: Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a Writ of Mandamus directing the respondents to strictly abide and adhere to implement the criteria laid down in the Notification No.IV-14014/7/2004-NI-II dated 25.11.2005 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the 1st respondent herein determining the eligibility of languages to be considered for classification of languages as a classical language before granting and declaring to give classical status to the language.
Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a Writ of Certiorari to call for the records relating to the notification of the first respondent in No.2-16/2004-Akademies dated 31.10.2008, and to quash the same.
Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus to call for the records relating to the impugned resolution passed by the first respondent in his proceedings No.2-16/2004-US (Akademics), Ministry of Culture, Government of India dated 1.11.2004 and 21.12.2004 and quash the same and consequently directing the first respondent to reconstitute the committee of Linguistic experts to decide the claim for classical language status headed by a retired Chief Justice of a High Court or as retired Judge of the Supreme Court with linguistic experts and scholars as members in the place of existing committee members, the respondents 4 to 10 herein.
Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a Writ of Certiorari to call for the records relating to the notification in F.No.8-37/2010-Akademies issued by the second respondent dated 08.08.2013 published in the Government of India Gazette dated 14.08.2013 and quash the same.)
Sanjay Kishan Kaul, CJ
1. Language is the medium of communication of one s thoughts. India, as a Country, is rich in Heritage and Languages. It is said that there are about 325 languages and 24 scripts in India! Some languages have had longer history and a vast literature. Tamil is one such language.
2. The Union of India took a policy decision to confer Classical status to eminent languages and laid down criteria for classification of a language as Classical Language . The initial notification laying down the criteria was issued on 12.10.2004, with the subsequent corrigendum notification dated 29.10.2004 and thereafter, a notification dated 25.11.2005. Tamil, being one of the oldest among the contemporary languages in use now, was the first language to be declared as a Classical Language, soon followed by Sanskrit. On declarations of other languages as classical languages i.e., Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Odiya, the petitioner, a senior advocate of this Court, seems to have a grievance and has filed these public interest litigations challenging the declarations. In a nutshell, what he seeks to agitate is that the criteria meant for classification of a language, as a Classical Language, is not met by the other languages and that only Tamil and Sanskrit could be categorized as Classical Languages. He, thus, pleads that the categorization of other languages as Classical Languages is illegal, and seeks to dilute the benefit of such classification of Tamil.
3. In order to appreciate the factual controversy relating to the issuance of the notifications, we consider it appropriate to reproduce the notification dated 12.10.2004, which reads as under:-
Government of India/Bharat Sarkar
Ministry of Home Affairs/Grih Mantralaya
Jaisalmer House, Mansingh Road,
New Delhi - 110 011
Dated the 12th October, 2004
It has been decided by the Government of India to create a new category of languages as Classical Languages.
2. The following criteria will be used to determine the eligibility of langages to be considered for classifaction as a Classical Language :-
i. High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a thousand years.
ii. A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers. iii. The literary tradition be original and not borrowed form another speech community.
3. It is also notified that the Tamil Language satifies the creiteria listed a para 2 above and would henceforth be classified as a Classical Language .
4. The Ministry of Culture will take all further steps to follow up and implement the above decisions
Joint Secretary to Govt. of India
Government of India/Bharat Sarkar
Ministry of Home Affairs/Grih Mantralaya
Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market,
New Delhi-110 003
Dated the 25th November, 2005
Government of India created a new category of languages as Classical Languages vide Notification No.IV-14014/7/2004-NI-II dated 12th October, 2004 read with the Corrigendum Notification dated 29th October, 2004 and the following criteria was laid down to determine the eligibility of languages to be considered for classification as a Classical Language :-
i. High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a thousand years
ii. A body of ancient literature/texts which considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
iii. The literary tradition showed be orginal and not borrowed from another speech community
iv. The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offeshoots.
2. Tamil Language was notified as a Classical Language vide para 3 0f the aforesaid Notification dated 12th October, 2004
3. The Goverment of India has now decided to amend para 2(i) of the notification dated 12th October, 2004 so to read as under.
High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
4. It is also notified that Sanskrit Language satisfies the above criteria and will be classified as a Classical Language.
5. All other provisions of the Notification dated 12th October 2004 will remain unchanged.
6. The Ministry of Culture will take all further steps required to follow up and implement the above decisions. (Jag Ram) Deputy Secretary to Govt. of India
Sd/- (Jag Ram)
Deputy Secretary to Govt. of India
4. It is relevant to note that on 01.11.2004, a resolution was passed by the Government of India constituting a Committee for examination of claims for declaring certain languages of antiquity as classical languages, consisting of Linguistic Experts. The said notification is also been reproduced as under:-
Whereas the Government of India received from time to time representations for declaring certain languages of antiquity as classical languages and whereas after taking into consideration all relevant issues and after consultation with Linguistic Experts, the Government of India declared Tamil language as one of the classical language vide Notification No.IV-14014/7/2004-NI-II dated 12th October 2004 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
Whereas it is often difficult to exactly pinpoint the year of origin of a language, since it is the product of a long process of evolution and the final arrival of a specific linguistic identity. Therefore, the Government of India has decided to set up the following Committee of Linguistic Experts to consider future demands for categorization of languages as classical languages:-
Professor of Linguistics,
Center of Linguistics and English School of Language,
Literature and Culture Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi - 110 067.
Department of Linguistics,
New Arts Faculty Building,
University of Delhi,
New Delhi - 110 007.
Prof. Udaya Narayana Singh,
Central Institute of Indian Languages,
Mysore - 570 006.
Professor of English (Linguistics),
Head, Centre of Creative Writing and Publication,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur,
Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences,
Kanpur - 208 016.
H.No.12-13-1233, Bhaarati ,
Street No.9, Tarnaka,
Hyderabad - 500017.
Sahitya Akademi (Ex-officio member)
The Ministry of Culture will bring to the notice of the above committee the request received by it for their consideration.
The Committee shall consider such future claims for declaration of any language as one of the classical languages on the following objective criteria:-
a) High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a thousand years.
b) A body of ancient literature/texts which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
c) The literary tradition has to be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
d) The classical language and literature could be distinct from its current form or could be discontinuous with its later forms or its offshoots (like Latin vs. Roman, Sanskrit-Pali vs. Prakrit and Modern Indo Aryan)
Whereas the Government of India have further decided that the following benefits shall be available to the languages declared or notified as classical languages:-
i) Two major international awards for scholars of eminence in Classical Indian languages awarded annually
ii) A Centre of Excellence for studies in Classical Languages is set up
iii) The University Grants Commission be requested to create, to start with at least in the Central Universities, a certain number of Professional Chairs for Classical languages for scholars of eminence in Classical Indian languages.
Joint Secretary to the Government of India.
5. The Government Order dated 21.12.2004 resolved to include two more Linguistic Experts to the Committee as under:-
Whereas the Government of India vide their Resolution No.2-16/2004-US (Academies) dated 1st November, 2004 had set up a Committee consisting of 6 Linguistic Experts to consider the future demands for categorization of languages as classical languages, the Government has now decided to nominate two more Linguistic Experts to the Committee as detailed below:-
1. Prof. V.C.Kulandaiswamy
No.41/23, MGR Road,
Besant Nagar, Chennai - 600 090.
New No.8, Old No.35,
Sriram Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur,
Chennai - 600 041.
The terms and conditions remain the same.
Incidentally, both these experts are scholars from Tamil Nadu.
6. We may note that the challenge is not to the criteria, but to the languages allegedly not meeting the criteria. This aspect has been noticed by us in our order dated 20.06.2016 that the four tests formula would be applicable, and that everyone accepts that the four tests formula, as set out, would be acceptable.
1. High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
2. A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
3. The literally tradition be original be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
4. The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots
7. We noticed that the crucial question is really the interpretation of this four tests formula. We say so, as the submission of the petitioner appearing-in-person is that none of the other languages, apart from Tamil and Sanskrit, have ancient literature of the texts of vintage 1500-2000 years, while the submission of the respondents is that the period requirement of 1500-2000 years is only relatable to the first of the four i.e., high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history, and not to the second criteria of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers. That apart, each of the respondents also set forth briefly in their affidavits, as to how the respective languages had rightly earned the status of classical languages coupled with the fact that this is an aspect to be determined by the Committee of Linguistic Experts, and really does not fall for determination in the domain of the present proceedings, and that too at the behest of the petitioner, who can claim no such expertise.
8. We may also note that the learned counsel appearing for different States did seek to emphasize and express an opinion that the petitioner should reconsider pressing these petitions as they serve no purpose, apart from raising divisive issues of the languages. Language is an aspect, which, unfortunately, has had some troubled past in our Country, and even the formation of some of the States was based on the principle of Linguistic States. Since, the categorization of other languages, as classical languages, no where affected the importance of Tamil as a classical language, nor diluted its importance, but, on the other hand, sought to give certain benefits to the other languages, no meaningful public purpose was being served by agitating these petitions. We are informed that apparently, initially, when the oldest of the petitions was filed and interim orders were granted on 05.08.2008, there were reactions in other States. However, the petitioner was not moved by these aspects insisting that he wanted to establish that there are only two classical languages.
9. The other aspect which we may note is the challenge of the respondents laid to locus of the petitioner to challenge these notifications, as also to the territorial jurisdiction of the Courts. But then it could not be seriously contended that there was any specific reason why this Court would have no jurisdiction, merely because the notification was issued by the Central Government.
10. The petitioner claims that, as recognized by scholars, only six languages can be called as Classical Languages namely, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Tamil and perhaps Chinese and Hebrew, out of the nearly 6000 languages in the World. The Classical language status for a language was thus said to be an issue of International importance and viewed with great interest by the world scholars. It is in recognition thereof that the earlier notifications are submitted to have been issued and the notification dated 12.10.2004 mentions the requirement of high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a thousand years, and that the antiquity recommended by the experts committee had thus reduced the time period from 1500 to 2000 years to 1000 years. In terms of the notification dated 25.11.2005, the notification was amended to read as a period of 1500 -2000 years, while notifying that Sanskrit language as one meeting the criteria.
11. The petitioner submitted that the four tests criteria was really based on the recommendation of the Gopichand Narang Committee appointed by the Government of India in its meeting of the Committee at Sahitya Academy on 02.09.2004 when the claims made on behalf of the Telugu and Kannada for classical status were taken up. The petitioner claims that the documents submitted on behalf of the Telugu and Kannada languages could not have got them the status of classical languages. However, the four members of the Committee are stated to have supported the request, while the other two members, who were subsequently nominated, and who are from Tamil Nadu, maintained that these two languages do not satisfy the criteria. In this process, the meetings on this behalf are stated to have taken a political turn by aggressive canvassing by the proponents of the two languages. The media reports appeared in local news press of chauvinism against the Tamil scholars. Thus, the petitioner felt that there could not be any objective evaluation of the two languages. The petitioner wanted that a positive recommendation must be reasonably detailed justifying the approval of each criterion in the following form:-
1. The first criterion requires
High Antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
The Committee, if it concludes that a language satisfies the criterion, must state the names and description of the texts/recorded history. It must be texts/recorded history that exist. Any non existent and surmised texts/recorded history cannot meet the criterion. Also, the two subsequent criteria, reinforce the condition that it must be existing texts/recorded history. Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Tamil are all referred to as classical languages on the basis of the quality of existing literature.
2. The second criterion is:
A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generation of speakers .
According to universal understanding ancient means prior to 500 A.D. (Ref.Cambridge Encyclopedia of Ancient Languages of the World)
The first criterion also refers to 1500-2000 years which coincides with the criterion specified in the Cambridge Encyclopedia.
If the Committee finds that, there is A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generation of speakers .
It must state the designation and details of such literature and reasonable evidence that it is ancient and is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
3. The third criterion is:
The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
A re-constitution of the Committee was sought for to be headed by a retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court, but having experts in literature and linguist as members.
12. We may notice that this petition has been pending for eight years, interim orders were granted on 05.08.2008 to the effect that any decision taken by the Committee will be subject to the result of the writ petition, and classical language status was granted to the other languages, as mentioned before, which has resulted even in subsequent petitions being filed by the petitioner, once again assailing that notifications.
13. The petitioner drew the court s attention to The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World s Ancient Language edited by Roger D.Woodard to contend that only two Indian languages i.e., Sanskrit and Tamil are considered to be the ancient languages. In the chapter on Sanskrit, in the context of Historical and Cultural Contexts, it has been mentioned that Sanskrit is an Indo-European language, a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian subgroup of that family and the oldest Indo-Aryan language. Its descendants include a range of linguistic varieties such as Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, though it is not related genetically to the Dravidian languages of South India, such as Tamil and Telegu. The oldest form of Sanskrit is stated to be Vedic Sanskrit with Rig Veda, the most oldest, taking shape around 1500 B.C.
14. On the other hand, in the Chapter on old Tamil, while dealing with Historical and Cultural Contexts, it is stated to stand alongside Sanskrit as one of the India s two classical languages and is the oldest recorded member of the Dravidian languages with the old Tamil being relatable to about 254 B.C. Thus, the submission of the petitioner is that in the International context also, in which the classical language should be understood, only these two languages are understood as having the ingredients of Classical Language.
15. Counter affidavits have been filed on behalf of the State of Andhra Pradesh and State of Telangana. It is their case that the specialized body in the form of Expert Committee examined both the claims of Telugu and Kannada languages at its meetings held on 10.06.2008 and 08.08.2008, where after recommendations were submitted. A mere dissent of member/members cannot be a ground to claim that the recommendations were not objective, even though the Government accepted the recommendations. Such a policy decision of the Government, it is submitted, is not amenable to judicial review. Even Tamil language got its classical status only on recommendation of an expert committee. Telugu language, it is claimed, satisfies the elements of antiquity, and also contains the characteristics of the other classical languages of the world.
16. Reference was made as to how Tamil was classified as a Classical language, at which stage the antiquity was judged from the point of view of only 1000 years as one of the three criteria. Subsequently, the requirement was made of a recorded history of over the period of 1500-2000 years and that test was satisfied by the Telugu language. In respect of material for such antiquity, it has been inter alia stated:-
For instance, the Bhattiprolu stone Buddhist casket in proto Telugu belongs to B.C.3000 (Ref.Epigraphia Indica Vol.ii, page no.232), The Erragudi Asokan Rock Edict in Proto Telugu belongs to 257 B.C. (D.C.Sarkar s Ashokan Studies, Calcutta 1979 pages 7-8), the Ghantasala Brahmin inscription. Epigraphia Indica, Vol.27-1947-48, pages 1 to 4 and the pillar inscription of Vijaya Satakarni, Vijayapuri, Nagarjuna Konda etc., belongs to First Century A.D.. Further, Tummalagudem inscription of Vishnukundinas belongs to 5th Century A.D. (Epigraphia Andhrika,Vol.ii pages 9 to 14)
17. It has been, further, contended that there is no agreed definition of the word classic in the context of a language and there is no unanimity amongst the linguistics as to what criteria has to be adopted for the purposes of evaluating whether a language is a Classical language. In this behalf, the celebrated work of Language (1921) of Sir Edward Sapir, who is stated to be one of the most influential figures in American linguist influencing several generation of linguists across several schools of linguists, has been referred to, and the relevant portion is extracted as under:-
When we realize that an educated Japanese can hardly frame a single literary sentence without the use of Chinese resources, that to this day Siamese and Burmese and Cambodian bear the unmistakable imprint of the Sanskrit and Pali that came in with Hindu Buddhism centuries ago, or that whether we argue for or against the teaching of Latin and Greek (in schools) our arguments are sure to be studded with words that have come to us from Rome and Athens, we get some indication of what early Chinese culture, Buddhism and classical Mediterranean civilization have meant in the world s history. There are just five languages that have had overwhelming significance as carriers of culture. These are classical Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek and Latin. In comparison with these, even such culturally important languages as Hebrew and French sink into a secondary position.
18. The works of Sir George L. Hart of the University of California, Berkeley, in respect of the expression Classical language has been referred to as under:-
To qualify as a classical tradition, a language must fit several criteria; it should be ancient, it should be an independent tradition that arose mostly on its own not as an offshoot of another tradition, and it must have a large and extremely rich body of ancient literature. Unlike the other modern languages of India, Tamil meets each of these requirements. It is extremely old (as old as Latin, and older than Arabic); it arose as an entirely independent tradition, with almost no influence from Sanskrit or other languages; and its ancient literature is indescribably vast and rich. It seems strange to me that I should have to write an essay such as this claiming that Tamil is a classical literature - it is akin to claiming that India is a great country or Hinduism is one of the world s great religions. The status of Tamil as one of the great classical languages of the world is something that is patently obvious to anyone who knows the subject. To deny that Tamil is a classical language is to deny a vital and central part of the greatness and richness of Indian culture.
19. In the aforesaid context, it is stated that while he referred to Tamil, there are other Linguists who do not believe that he (Sir George L.Hart) satisfactorily identified several deserving languages. For instance, Wikipedia includes Kannada as such a language, but leaves out Telugu. These are the illustrations how there are varying opinions. In what is the test in India is what has been finalized, and even before this Court it has been accepted as the Test.
20. The counter affidavit filed on behalf of the Government of Kerala refers to the recommendations of the Expert Committee for grant of classical language status to the Malayalam language. Based on material examined by it and that being the expert body, its recommendations were accepted, the petitioner can hardly be permitted to question its say, that too through public interest litigation. The judicial pronouncements against permitting busybodies and meddlesome interlopers was sought to be applied to the petitioner.
21. It is stated that Malayalam, as a literary language, has had an existence of over 10 centuries. Rajasekharas Vaazhappalli inscription of the 9th century was considered to be the first inscription of independent Malayalam. Manipraavala was an innovation in the style of literary writing in Malayalam without parallels in other Dravidian literary languages. It also had a body of respected literature since the 12th century.
22. On close examination of the evolution of Malayalam language by the expert committee, it was found that the Malayalam language and literature was about 1500 to 2000 years old. Inscriptions dating to the 2nd and 5th century AD were noted, and it was concluded that Malayalam language had a body of ancient literature and an original literary tradition and heritage, which was at least a thousand years old.
23. The counter affidavit filed by the State of Odisha has set out in detail the history of how various notifications were issued for constituting the Committee of Linguistic experts, as to how the materials were examined and then such status given.
24. In the aforesaid context, it is stated that Odisha was the first province in the country to be formed on linguistic basis even during the colonial days in 1936 and has been included in the eighth schedule of the Constitution. This province has been referred to in the National Anthem as Utkala . Exhaustive data was collected and submitted before the Expert Committee. This data was the result of research by specially constituted committee and contained 483 pages of documentary research like, photographs of inscriptions, rock edicts, sculptures, palm-leaves, etc. It is stated to have a developmental history of 2000 years and more than 1500 years of literary development. The petitioner, it is stated, is not even familiar with the Odia language or of its history. The relevant portion giving the brief description of the history of Odia language is extracted as under:-
Odia was variously known in the past as Udra, Utkala, Kalina, Koshala, Toshala and Kangoda and nurtured rich cultural and linguistic traditions over a span of two thousand and five hundred years.
The name Kalinga has received a mention in the 6th Century B.C in Dharmasutra by Boudhayana. Kalinga has also been mentioned in such ancient texts as the Ramayana, the Mahabaratha, the Natyasastra by Bharatamuni. Artha Sastra by Kautalya and Manusmrit and Astaduyaeee by Panini.
In Ashokan edicts at Dhauli (Bhubaneswar) and Jaugada (Ganjam District) which were engraved in the 3rd century B.C one finds traces of Odia language in the earliest state of its evolution. Certain words occurring in these inscriptions are intelligible to a modern Odia reader. In the first century B.C, Emperor Kharavela s Hatigumpha Inscription (Udayagiri, Bhubaneswar) uses a more developed and poetic fom.
Odia language continued to be used over the next ten centuries in stone and copper plate inscriptions which are available in large numbers. In the 11th century inscription found at Urajam (in present Andhra Pradesh) one comes across Odia script which has taken a distinct stage.
Palm leaves came to be used as a writing surface in Odisha from an early as the 5th century A.D. The huge collection of palm-leaf manuscripts in the Odisha State Museum and in private possession indicate an unbroken tradition of writing in Odia Script.
Charya composers (8th -12th Century A.D) who are essentially followers of esoteric Buddhism used an early form of Odia in their mystical poems.
Such a tradition accounts for the emergence in the 15th century A.D of a grand epic like the Odia, Mahabharata, consisting of one hundred and forty thousand couplets. It may be mentioned here that this epic is written in an innovative verse form known as dandi vrutta. This is only Mahabharat among the modern Indian language written by a single author in a life time. The literary renaissance which followed the Odi Mahabharata witnessed the composition of Odia classics such as Jagamohan Ramayana by Balaram Das, Bhagabat by Jagannath Das, Sunya Samhita by Achyutananda Das, Hetu Udaya Bhagavat by Sishu Ananta Das, Gobinda Chandra by Jasobanta Das.
Odia poetic took a dramatic turn with the emergency of poets such as Upendra Bhanja, Abhimanyu, Dinakrushna who employed an intricate ornate style of composition. In their writings these historical resources of Odia language were exploited to make it an equal of classical Sanskrit poetry.
The rich, unbroken tradition of the development of Odia language over the centuries and the great literature laid a solid foundation of Odia identity. For this reason, Odia language provided a rallying point for Odias living in different tracts under the British rule. No wonder, that newly emerging Odia identity found expression in Odia language, and Odisha became the first separate province in the country formed on the basis of language in 1936.
Great Odia writers such as Fakir Mohan Senapati, Radhanath Ray, Bhima Bhoi, the saint-poet, Gangadhar Meher and Madhusudan Rao enriched modern Odia literature by experimenting with new techniques and introducing new themes and characters. The modern tradition they inaugurated has been carried forward by their worth successors who have won national and international recognition for their contribution to literature. Odia language, spoken by more than 40 million people, has become more vibrant by assimilating elements from tribal and regional languages and absorbing influences from foreign languages like English, Persian, Arabic, Portuguese and from modern media and technology.
25. The State of Karnataka has filed a detailed counter affidavit, along with a copy of the report, which was published in the form of a book by the Government of Karnataka. The report of the State Government experts for recognizing Kannada as a classical language was in turn submitted to the Expert Committee. This material has dealt with each of the criteria separately, example, high antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over 1500-2000 years has been separately substantiated, while the second category is referred to in Chapter II. The first available full-fledged Kannada literary work is stated to be Kaviraja Marga dating 850 A.D. It is, in this context, submitted that the petitioner is deliberately trying to obfuscate the issue by bringing the parameters of the first criteria to the second criteria.
26. It has been set out that the authority to recognize a language as a Classical Language is not fettered by any statute, but it is only a policy matter of the Government, best left to the language experts, and the Court should not be called upon to embark on a journey of reviewing the opinions/recommendations of the Linguist Expert Committee. The earliest recorded word of Kannada language is stated to be Isila occurring in the Brahmagiri Rock Inscriptions of King Ashoka dating to about 252 B.C. The ancient full-fledged Kannada writing was discovered in a stone inscription in Halmidi Village, Belur Taluk, Hassan District, Karnataka State dates back to 450 A.D. Thus, Kannada language was in existence from the third century B.C and came to be used as a language of administration during the fourth century A.D. Subsequently, in the 5th Century A.D, Kannada became the language of literature, and thus, it is a language which was sufficiently developed to be used as an administrative language, as well as the language of literature for the past 1500 years. Both Kannada and Tamil are stated to be within the class of Proto Dravidian stage and became independent languages almost simultaneously and thus, it is claimed that Kannada as an independent language is as old as Tamil language.
27. The first full-fledged Kannada literary work is stated to be Kaviraja Marga which dates back to 850 A.D., and there are considerable volume of creative writing in Kannada, both poetry and prose from the same. It has been averred as under:-
The first available full fledged Kannada literary work is Kaviraja Marga which dates back to 850 A.D. The author was Srivijaya in the Court of King Nrupathunga (814-877 A.D). Kaviraja Marga is a work of poetics.
According to inscriptions, Durvineeta, a King of Ganga Dynasty (520 A.D) who ruled South Karnataka was a great scholar who wrote a commentary on Bharavi s well known epic Kiratarjuniya .
The first extant prose literary work in Kannada Vaddaradhane was written in 9th Century A.D. It is a collection of stories.
In a journal of royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, B.Lewis Rice wrote about the early poet Pampa who was the author of Aadi Purana and Vikramarjune Vijaya . The poet has stated about his birth and the year he completed the work to be 902 A.D and 941 A.D. The poet was in the Courtship of King Harikesari.
28. Separate counter affidavits have been filed by the Union of India. The relevant facts have already been set out by us. Suffice to say that the emphasis is on the constitution of Linguist Committee. The criteria was re-changed from 1500-2000 years to 1000 years and when it was objected to by some of the experts in the Committee, the original period of antiquity was restored by the Government. When Sanskrit and Tamil were included as Classical Languages, it was not the intention of the Government that no other languages will be considered for inclusion in the category in future. The Linguistic experts are all respected and recognized people and their bio-data and experience have been enclosed with the counter affidavit to substantiate their eminence.
29. The experts are stated to have been left free to take their decision, and the experts committee was sufficiently broad based. It is not, as if, the petitioner could really question the eminence of these persons, and the political colour sought to be given to the issue was unfortunate. For example, one of the members Dr.Bh.Krishnamurti is stated to be a well-known authority in the world so far as Dravidian linguistic studies are concerned and he was a member of the Committee which recommended Classical language status to Tamil and Sanskrit. Similarly, Dr.K.V.Subbarao, is a well-known linguist teacher in the University of Delhi. To question such eminent members because they were Telugu speaking and Kannada speaking could hardly be appreciated when the benefit of opinion by these people resulted in conferring status of Classical language to Tamil and Sanskrit. Once again the question of judicial review is sought to be questioned. If there is no illegallity, malafides or motive, there was no reason to question the administrative decision and that too taken on the basis of experts committee recommendations.
30. The original records were also produced for our perusal in respect of decision making process along with the relevant portions being photocopied. Suffice to say that the notings show that the decision was for the request for giving status of Classical language to be scientifically cross checked by Linguistic experts on the basis of the materials submitted. We may also add that the whole issue began with the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the UPA alliance providing for setting up of a Committee to examine the question of declaring all languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution as official languages. In addition, Tamil was to be declared as a Classical language. The Sahitya Academy was consulted and while the opinion was that there was no doubt about the classical status of Tamil language, it may not be the Governments job to declare any language as Classical, since it was more of a critical concept, than a matter of official policy. Since there was no procedure in the Ministry to declare any language as Classical language, the subject was assigned to the Home Ministry to take up the matter in consultation with the Ministry of Culture and other relevant Ministries to work out detailed modalities for the implementation of the commitment made in the NCMP. Thereafter, the meeting of the experts was organized by the Sahitya Academy. The criteria was discussed and finalized, and it was noted that there was apparently no defined criteria in existence for a classical language. The Cabinet decision was taken on submission of the consultative report. We may add that one of the Ministers from Tamil Nadu in the Union Government, however, suggested that the tests should be rigorous and no language should be categorized as Classical language, unless it was more than 2000 years old and fulfills all other pre-requisites. Basically, the antiquity criteria of 1000 years was actually sought to be enhanced, for which discussions took place, and it was also opined that to raise the bar to 2000 years would mean exclusion of many other languages. Finally, instead of 2000 years, what was agreed upon was 1500-2000 years.
31. The parameter of 1500-2000 years was fixed only to authenticate the existence of texts/recorded history of the language and not the existence of the literature. What is acceptable as literature has to determined by the expert body and not by this Court.
32. In the counter filed by the Government of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, it was contended as if Tamil had a recorded a history of only 1000 years and despite that, it was declared as classical language. It has also been contended that the Bhattiprolu stone Buddhist Casket in Proto Telugu belongs to 3000 B.C. The contentions of the bureaucrats of highest cadre of the respective States do not appear to be borne from records. The reference is only to the 3rd Century and not to the Millennium. The Bhattiprolu inscription talks only about the Alphabets denoting Brahmi Script between 3rd Century to 1st Century BCE, from which Telugu and Kannada Scripts sprouted. Further, the criteria when Tamil was declared as classical language required the existence of texts/recorded history for only 1000 years. It does not mean that the language has been in existence for only 1000 years. In fact, the literature and history of classic Tamil Sangams, a meeting of scholars for debate and display of their creation, date back to several centuries before BCE. Various theories on Lemuria or Kumari Kandam, a vast extent of land in South of Indian Ocean, considered to be submerged around 16000 BCE is claimed to be the cradle of Tamil Civilization. Creativity alone can grow a language. Literature and debates are two of the channels. Various ancient texts in Tamil and Sanskrit speak about the existences of such Kumari Kandam. Ancient literary works of Tamil language in the first Century AD speak about the ancient Tamil Sangams all attended by various poets, the first of which is said to have been held for 4400 years, the second of which lasted for 3700 years and the third Sangam for about 1850 years. Tholkappiam, a treatise on Tamil grammar, the first of its kind available after Current Era, was arguably written in the 3rd Century BCE. Thirukkural, an undisputed and widely preached literature, accepted throughout out the world and the world s third most translated work after the Bible an Quran, dealing with all aspects of life was written between 3rd Century BCE to 1st Century BCE. Purananur , a literary work, which is a part of curriculum in schools was written between 1st Century BCE to 5th Century. Being a sensitive subject, it would have been wise for the respondents to restrict themselves for justification of the declaration of their language as classical , rather than a debate over the superiority of one language over the other.
33. From the records, it is evident that the expert body, was satisfied that the languages comply the eligibility criteria. Therefore, this court cannot go into the opinions and findings of expert body. The significant aspect is that once a language is declared as a Classical language, funding is made available to establish Centre of Excellence for study and creation of boards to look to measures, to promote and protect the Classical language. Awards are given for excellence in the language. Thus, it is really a financial assistance for measures to protect and promote the growth of the language. It is not necessary that for promotion of a language, it must be declared as Classical . The central as well as state governments are well within their rights to promote the languages and culture of this country by allocating funds, which is actually in practice by all the states. Records also show that the inclusion of two eminent Tamil scholars was a result of, if one may say, a political canvassing to do so, since Tamil had already been declared a Classical language. However, their efforts turned futile in view of the decision of the majority of the members of the expert panel to recommend for the declaration.
34. The petitioner also made a valiant attempt in pleading that the prominence of the Tamil language would be lost, if it is treated on par with other languages, which have been conferred classical status, pending the writ petitions. We do not agree with the petitioner. The prominence of a language would not depend on the development or fall of other language. Rather, the growth and importance can be attributed only to usage of the language and creative contribution in the forms of arts and literature. Indisputably, Tamil has a history and literatures, which is ancient.
35. The scope of scrutiny by this Court could only be within the parameter enunciated before, i.e., the test laid down by the classical languages by the respondents was satisfied or not. We have found fault with the manner of interpretation by the petitioner of the four test formula as he seeks to introduce the high antiquity of early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500 to 2000 years specified in the first test. The second test is of a body of ancient literature/texts which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers. This is contrary to the bare reading of the four test formula and thus, such a plea cannot be accepted.
36. Therefore, at the cost of repetition, it is for the experts to verify whether the languages satisfy the norms and recommend for the declaration. Having satisfied, they have recommended for the declaration of the languages in consideration to be classical . The facts which made the expert body to recommend the promulgation of such declaration has also been placed before us and a copy has also been furnished to the petitioner. As such we do not finding any reason to interfere with the impugned declaration. This court cannot convert itself into a forum for debate on such matters. If the petitioner still feels that the particulars furnished by the respective states would not satisfy the criteria, it is open to him to approach the authorities. Similarly, he can also give his suggestions for determination of the type of literature, that can be the bench mark for qualification for consideration to the concerned authorities.
37. We may thus end with the following words of Oliver Wendell Holmes :
Every language is a temple, in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined .
38. The writ petitions are accordingly disposed of. All connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.