In a recent development, the Supreme Court of India addressed the concerning rise in student suicides, primarily attributing the distress to intense competition and parental pressure associated with exam preparation. The response came during a hearing on a plea urging regulation of the proliferating coaching institutes, with Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti expressing a sense of limitation in issuing directives.
The bench acknowledged the severity of the situation, highlighting parental pressure as a significant factor in student suicides. Justice Khanna noted the prevalence of coaching institutes, stating, "While many of us may prefer not to have coaching institutes, considering the conditions of schools and the intense competition, students often find themselves with no alternative but to resort to these coaching institutes."
Advocate Mohini Priya, representing petitioner Dr. Aniruddha Narayan Malpani, presented data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) indicating that approximately 8.2 percent of students in the country succumb to suicide, emphasizing the urgent need for intervention.
Despite the court's acknowledgment, the bench expressed its inability to issue directives in this complex scenario. Instead, they suggested that the petitioner present recommendations to the government for consideration, recognizing the government's role in addressing these issues.
The petitioner's plea aimed to obtain directives for overseeing the activities of private coaching institutes, particularly those catering to competitive entrance exams like IIT-JEE and NEET. The plea underscored the lack of regulation and oversight, attributing several student suicides to the unchecked practices of profit-driven coaching institutes.
The petition raised concerns about children as young as 14 enrolling in these centers, often residing away from home and undergoing intense preparation for medical or engineering entrance exams. It emphasized the abrupt transition from a sheltered home environment to the demanding competitive world, adversely affecting the mental health of students.
The plea argued that the profit-centric approach of coaching institutes neglects student well-being, contributing to the substantial pressure faced by the youth and, tragically, leading some to take their own lives. It highlighted the dangerous living conditions and subpar environments in which students are compelled to reside and study.
Moreover, the petition emphasized the invisible nature of mental health issues, likening them to physical ailments triggered by external forces and pressures. It contended that student suicides pose a serious human rights concern and criticized the Centre's alleged lackadaisical attitude in enacting laws to address the issue promptly.
In conclusion, the plea asserted that the government's neglect compromises the constitutional right of individuals to live with dignity, as guaranteed under Article 21. The court granted permission for the withdrawal of the plea, allowing the petitioner to approach an appropriate forum to address the critical issue of student well-being and mental health in the context of exam pressure and coaching institutes.
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