Teachers, school cannot be blamed for every case of student suicide: Madras High Court

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The Madras High Court Thursday said that in every case of student suicide, it would be unfair to lay the blame on teachers, principals and the school without any cogent evidence [K Kala vs. The Secretary].

Justice SM Subramaniam said that a teacher or other school authorities could be blamed for a student’s death only if there is direct evidence of them having misbehaved with the student or having resorted to corporal punishment that is prohibited by the State and Central authorities.

“For each and every act of students in a School, the Teacher or Headmaster cannot be blamed. Whenever a case of suicide is found, the parents are not expected to blame the teachers and headmasters alone in the absence of any evidences. General blaming or causing dis-reputation would affect the image of the school and cause prejudice to the interest of the other children studying in the very same School,” the Court said.

The order was passed on a petition filed by the parents of a 17-year-old boy who had committed suicide in 2017.

The parents had alleged the boy was driven to kill himself following “torture” by the headmaster of the government school, where he was a student. They had sought disciplinary action against the school and the headmaster, and had sought rupees 10 lakh as compensation.

The Court, however, noted that the local police and the district education officer had conducted their respective inquiries into the incident and both had concluded that the headmaster did not have any role in the death of the student.

The parents had alleged that the headmaster was known to resort to extreme practices to ensure discipline. They said he used to beat students and humiliate them. The parents further alleged that the headmaster used to “cut off students’ hair in public, tear their trousers using a blade, use filthy language, and beat them ruthlessly.”

They said their son too was subjected to such treatment which drove him to commit suicide.

The inquiry reports of the police and district authorities, however, said that the headmaster had instilled discipline in the school and “consequently, the pass percentage in the School increased from 45 percent to 90 percent during his tenure as headmaster.”

The Court recorded the submissions and said that it was a fit case to be dismissed with costs.

It, however, refrained from doing because the parents were already in pain on having lost their son.

The Court also said that parents have a greater responsibility than teachers in ensuring the well0being of their children.

Advocates M Sreela and R Diwakaran appeared for the petitioner.

Special Government Pleader S Mythreye Chandru, and Government Advocates P Rajarajeswari and RP Murugan Raja appeared for the respondents.

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