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Parents Blamed by SC for Kota Suicides, No Intervention in in Coaching Centres

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that blaming coaching institutes for rising student suicides, particularly in Rajasthan’s Kota, was improper because parents’ high expectations are driving children to commit suicide.

Refusing to hear a petition seeking regulation of private coaching institutes and a law establishing minimum standards, a bench led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna stated, “The problem is with parents, not with coaching institutes.”

Conscious of the fact that nearly 24 suicides have been reported this year in Rajasthan’s Kota district, where such institutes offering engineering and medical coaching for school-aged children have proliferated, the bench, which also included justice SVN Bhatti, stated, “Suicides are not happening because of the coaching institutes. They happen because the children cannot meet the expectations of their parents. The number of deaths could be much higher.”

The Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Mumbai-based doctor Aniruddha Narayan Malpani, who accused coaching institutes of driving students to the point of death by using children as “commodity” and working them up for selfish gains.

According to advocate Mohini Priya’s petition, while suicides in Kota have made headlines, the phenomenon is common to all private coaching institutions, and no law or regulation holds them accountable.

“Most of us would prefer not to have coaching institutes,” the bench stated. However, examinations have become increasingly competitive, and parents have high expectations. In competitive exams, students lose half a mark or one mark.”

The Court suggested the petitioner to either approach the Rajasthan high court as suicide incidents cited in the petition largely pertained to Kota or move a representation to the Central government as it said, “How can we direct a legislation on this issue.” Advocate Priya sought permission to withdraw indicating that the petitioner would prefer moving a representation. The Court permitted the petition to be withdrawn.

The petition went on to say, “Student suicides is a grave human rights concern and the lackadaisical attitude of the Centre in enacting a law despite the rising number of suicides clearly reflects upon 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.”

As a step toward controlling and regulating the operation of private coaching institutes, the Rajasthan Government recently introduced the Rajasthan Coaching Institutes (Control and Regulation) Bill, 2023 and the Rajasthan Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority Bill, 2023. The two yet-to-be-enacted laws included monitoring the cost of required study materials and other charges levied by coaching institutes.

The petition said, “The coaching institute industry has now become a market where students are deceived, hunted, and poached. It is an “industry” that focuses more on its profit than the well-being of students.” As these children who are as young as 14-16 years get suddenly exposed to such a competitive environment, they lack the mental toughness to withstand pressure, it added.

“An individual student has now become merely a product in the hands of the coaching institutes” the petition said, pointing out that the coaching business of Kota has a market size of about ₹ 5,000 crore. It further said, “Education is being commercialised and in the absence of proper regulation, the students are being exploited,” with huge money extracted from students of middle and lower-middle class families, where parents stake everything on their children’s future. Social disconnect and limited interaction with family adds to the pressure, it added.

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Source: HT

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