Schools should not be blamed for every student’s suicide

The Madras High court on Thursday in K Kala vs The Secretary case said that it would be unfair to lay the blame on the school, principal, and teachers when a student commits suicide.

A writ of Mandamus was filed to direct The Chief Educational Officer to initiate disciplinary action against the 4th respondent i.e., Mr. Robert (Head-master) and subsequently directed The Secretaries of Education Department and The State of Tamil Nadu to pay a sum of Rs. 10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakhs) as compensation towards the writ petitioner.

The writ petition was filed by the mother of the 17-year-old boy who was studying in Gudalur Government Higher Secondary School in 12th standard. She stated that her son was tortured by the school’s Headmaster. He used to abuse the boys in the school publicly by tearing their trousers using blade, beating the children ruthlessly, using filthy language, and cut their hair. Due to this continuous behavior, the petitioner’s son committed suicide.

The police had registered a case on 30th August 2017 under Cr.P.C section 174 and the grievance of the petitioner was that, that the Police had not proceeded with the investigation and the inquiry was not conducted properly. Hence the petitioner was constrained to move the present writ petition.

The learned counsel for the petitioner contended that section 17 of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 prohibits any kind of physical or mental harassment to a child in a school. Despite the said rules, the authorities did not initiate any action against Mr. Robert. Whereas the learned Special Government Pleader appearing on behalf of the other respondents revealed that the allegations raised by the petitioner are incorrect. The inquiry on the Headmaster uncovered that if any child failed to trim their hair the Headmaster used to pay from his own pocket and asked them to get a haircut in order to maintain the decorum of the school. It was also found that in his tenure the pass percentage in the school was increased from 45% to 90%.

The learned Special Government Pleader also stated that according to the inquiry report conducted by the Chief Education Officer, the Petitioner’s son had joined the class for the Academic Year 2016-2017 and that he was an irregular student to which the petitioner filed a counter affidavit, denying the allegations. Both the Department and the Police officials concluded in their investigation that the boy attended the class for only 9 days in the entire month of August 2017, in July his attendance was 13 days, and in June, 16 days respectively.

In a report submitted by The District Education Officer, it showed that the Headmaster is not responsible for the student committing suicide. As the Head-master used to maintain discipline inside the school and took additional efforts to achieve better results in the public examination.

The excerpts from the judgment read out:

“In a School, large number of children are studying. One teacher has to take care of number of students in a classroom. Thus, he / she may not be in a position to assess the mental health of every child attending the school. The overall monitoring may be possible and therefore, the mental health of a child must be always protected by the parents at the first instance.”

The court is of the opinion that the Respondent 4 i.e., the Head-master is not liable and hence the writ petition stands dismissed.

Source: Bar and Bench

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *