Notice to Centre, UPSC on plea against English test



New Delhi: The UPSC was asked on Wednesday by the Delhi High Court to respond to a plea questioning its decision to introduce in Civil Services Preliminary Examination a new compulsory paper, part of which is to test candidates' ability to understand English.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued notice also to the Ministry of Personnel, besides the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), seeking their stands by March 14 on the plea by one Dina Nath Batra.

Batra, in his petition, contended the new test paper deprived a majority of Indian citizens, having Hindi or other languages as the language of instruction during their education, of a level playing field in the competition.

His counsel Jagdeep Dhankad said that civil services aspirants till 2010 were required to answer two objective type question papers - one for general knowledge and the other on a subject of their choice, in the annual preliminary examination.

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

The counsel alleged the new question paper on English is "discriminatory" as it denies "equal competing platform" to those aspirants who had studied in Hindi medium or any other Indian language.

"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," the petition said.

The petitioner also contended that the central government had not consulted various official committees on language, while implementing the new pattern.

PTI