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SC blames parents for Kota suicides, refuses to rein in coaching centres

ByAbraham Thomas
Nov 20, 2023 09:55 PM IST

The Court was hearing a PIL filed by a Mumbai-based doctor Aniruddha Narayan Malpani who blamed coaching institutes for driving students to death

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said that blaming coaching institutes for rising suicides among students, primarily in Rajasthan’s Kota, was not proper as high expectation of parents is driving children to end their lives.

The problem is of parents and not of coaching institutes, the Supreme Court said. (File photo)

Refusing to entertain a petition that sought regulation of private coaching institutes and a law to prescribe their minimum standards, a bench headed by justice Sanjiv Khanna said, “The problem is of parents and not of coaching institutes.”

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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 going children have mushroomed, the bench, also comprising justice SVN Bhatti said, “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 a Mumbai-based doctor Aniruddha Narayan Malpani who blamed coaching institutes for driving students to the point of death by using children as “commodity” and working them up for selfish gains.

The petition argued by advocate Mohini Priya said that while suicides in Kota have grabbed headlines, the phenomenon is common to all private coaching institutions and there is no law or regulation that holds them accountable. .

Also Read: 83 students in 223 Kota hostels severely depressed, say experts

The bench said, “Most of us would like not to have coaching institutes. But nowadays, the examinations have become so competitive and there is a lot of expectation from parents. Students lose out by half-a-mark or one mark in the competitive exams.”

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 stated, “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.”

The Rajasthan Government had recently introduced the Rajasthan Coaching Institutes (Control and Regulation) Bill, 2023 and Rajasthan Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority Bill, 2023 as a step to control and regulate functioning of private coaching institutes. The two laws which are yet to become law had including monitoring the cost of required study material and other charger levied by the 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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