A division bench of Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered an interim stay on the directive of a trial bench, asking the West Bengal Higher Secondary (HS) Council to consider making English an optional subject in its examination. The stay gives the Council a breather, as Justice Barin Ghosh, of the same court, had in the trial case set it a three-month term to settle the issue.
The Council had filed an appeal before the division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice J. Biswas against Justice Ghosh’s order, and sought an interim stay on the directive.
Bikash Bhattacharya appeared on behalf of the Council and told the court the Council would be put to great inconvenience if Justice Ghosh’s directive was to be implemented. He pointed out that controversy was rife in the state over the study of English. The general mood was in favour of the introduction of English in the primary level itself. “Guardians will be dissatisfied if English is made an optional subject in HS,” Bhattacharya submitted.
Retaining English in the HS examination was a policy decision and the court did not have a right to interfere, he added.
Justice Ghosh’s directive had created confusion in the minds of candidates intending to write HS 2003, as also others who preparing for the school-leaving test in the years ahead.
Lawyer Bhattacharya also represented petitioner Sriparna Chatterjee, who was absent during the hearing. Sriparna, who had passed in all the subjects except English for three consecutive years, had written to Justice Ghosh, seeking a directive to the HS Council not to treat English as a compulsory subject.
Sriparna argued that in similar examinations of other state boards, it was not compulsory to clear the English paper.
Her appeal set Justice Ghosh to direct the Council to consider making English an optional subject. He had also set the Council three months to decide the issue.
After publication of last year’s Madhyamik and HS results, a large number of aggrieved candidates had moved Calcutta High Court. Justice Ghosh was assigned to hear most of the cases. In several, the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and the HS Council were asked by the court to produce the answer-scripts.
In some of the cases, the marks of the candidates recorded an increase after the scripts were produced before the court.
During the hearings, Justice Ghosh had received a large number of letters from aggrieved examinees and some of them were treated as writ petitions by the court.