Madras High Court on Tuesday said that teaching Hindi as a third language in Tamil Nadu, along with Tamil and English, would not be harmful to the students, Live Law reported.

The bench of acting Chief Justice MN Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu made the statement while hearing a plea regarding implementation of the National Education Policy 2020 in Tamil Nadu.

The policy recommends that students learn three languages of which two must be native to India. Tamil Nadu has criticised the plan saying that it was an attempt to impose Hindi and Sanskrit languages across the country.

The petition filed by Arjunan Elayaraja, the secretary of non-profit organisation Aalamaram, stated that Tamil Nadu cannot refrain from promoting Hindi and Sanskrit as far as the National Education Policy is concerned.

After listening to the plea, the court on Tuesday observed that restricting language learning coukd create limitations for job aspirants, PTI reported.

“[...]for taking [a] job in the state of Tamil Nadu, there is no difficulty because the candidates are well conversant with the local language (Tamil), but outside the State, they would face difficulty,” said Bhandari.

He also noted that several candidates had lost central government jobs as they did not know Hindi.

Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram, representing the Tamil Nadu government, said that the state followed a two-language policy. He added that adding a third language would “overburden the students”.

The lawyer also said that a person interested in learning Hindi, could do so through institutions like Hindi Prachar Sabha.

Bhandari responded to the lawyer’s comments by saying that there was a difference between “learning” and “teaching”.

The Madras High Court ordered that a notice be issued to the authorities and asked them to respond on the matter in four weeks, Live Law reported.

The court’s decision coincided with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s remark about the state being against the imposition on the Hindi language.

“Efforts are being taken to replace one’s mother tongue with Hindi and this is what we oppose,” Stalin said on Tuesday. “For them [Centre], Tamil and Tamil Nadu sound bitter.”

He made the statement while speaking at a virtual meeting organised by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam youth wing to commemorate martyrs of anti-Hindi language agitations in the state that had started in 1937.

The agitations included protests, riots and political movements after Hindi as a compulsory language subject in the schools of then Madras presidency. The demonstrations intensified when Hindi was adopted as the official language while framing the Constitution.