New Delhi, November 20
“Intense competition” and “pressure” of parents on their wards preparing for competitive exams are the main reasons for the rising number of suicides across the country, the Supreme Court said on Monday.
Hearing a plea that sought regulation of the mushrooming coaching institutes and cited the data on student suicides, a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, however, expressed helplessness and said the judiciary cannot pass directions in such a scenario.
“These are not easy things. Pressure from parents is behind all these incidents. More than the children, it is the parents who are putting pressure on them. How can the court pass directions in such a scenario,” the bench told advocate Mohini Priya, appearing for the petitioner - Mumbai-based doctor Aniruddha Narayan Malpani.
Justice Khanna said, “Although, most of us will not want any coaching institute to be there, but look at the conditions of schools. There is intense competition and students have no other option but to go to these coaching institutes.”
Referring to the 2020 data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Priya said it highlights that around 8.2 per cent of students in the country die by suicide.
The bench said that it knows about the situation but the court can’t pass directions and suggested that the petitioner instead approach the government with his suggestions.
Priya sought to withdraw the plea to approach the appropriate forum, which the court allowed.
The plea filed by Malpani through Priya said that it seeks appropriate directions for regulating the conduct of “profit-hungry private coaching institutes mushrooming across India which provide coaching for various competitive entrance examinations such as IIT-JEE (Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination) and NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test)”.
It said the petitioner has been constrained to approach the court as several students have committed suicides in recent years “facilitated by the absolute lack of regulation and oversight by the Respondents (Centre and state governments)”.
“Children as young as 14 years enter these coaching factories often away from their homes and undergo rigorous preparation in the anticipation of getting admission to a good medical or engineering college.
“After being in a protected home environment, the child is suddenly exposed to the harsh competitive world without being mentally equipped to do so. These profit-hungry coaching institutes, however, do not care about student well-being and are only focussed on minting money leading to the youth of India being pressurised enough to take their own lives,” the petition said.
It said that children are being made to live and study in these coaching factories in subpar and abnormal conditions which are severely affecting their mental health.
“What is most dangerous about mental health is that it is invisible, unlike other ailments in our body. However, just like other physical ailments, mental health problems too are triggered by extrinsic forces, surrounding environment and pressures,” it said.
The plea said that student suicides were a grave human rights concern.
“The lackadaisical attitude of the Centre in enacting a law despite the rising number of suicides clearly reflects upon the State’s apathy towards protecting these young minds who are the future of our country and their constitutional right to live with dignity guaranteed under Article 21,” the plea alleged.
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