The Madras High Court recently cautioned that teachers cannot be blamed for student suicides merely on account of disciplinary acts carried out by them in good faith. To this end, Justice RMT Teekhaa Raman has observed,.“… it is seen that, when teachers, in the interest of the institution, school/college, to correct any mistake done by the students in order to cultivate good habits and get rid of bad habits, such as stealing money, the accused being teachers on their school have scolded for stealing money and such act of the accused/teachers cannot be said to amount to abetment of suicide…”.The Court noted went on to note that there has been a rise in similar cases where teachers are being blamed for student suicides..“In another case, it seems that the student has taken extreme decision to put an end to his life by committing suicide by hanging, as he has obtained less marks in Mathematics which resulted in, the concerned Lecturer was arrayed as an accused. In yet another case, it is noted that the teacher being monitor of students had taken mobile phone only in the interest of student which he has used during the study hours and such act of the teacher could not amount to abetment of suicide.”.The judge proceeded to caution that the responsibility for such student suicides cannot be pinned on the teachers, only on account of their attempts to correct the student..“It is to be stated that the teachers were entitled to correct the wrong order. The younger generation viz., the students cannot resort to take the extreme step of putting an end to their life merely on the ground of getting lessor marks in the examination. It is always open to them to ask for revaluation as the case applicable.”.Such course-correction cannot be viewed as an instigation or an intentional abetment to commit suicide, held the Court. Hence, in such cases teachers cannot be held guilty of the crime of abetting suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Court ruled..Disciplining a student is not instigation or abetment to commit suicide .In the case at hand, an 18-year-old boy committed suicide by consuming poison. His father complained that prior to the suicide, the student had been harassed by three teachers of the Government Kottaram School, where he had been studying. A charge under Section 306, IPC was registered against the three teachers..The prosecution pinpointed an incident where the deceased student was told to remove a plantain leaf from the playground by one of the teachers. The student, however, asserted that he had not brought food in the leaf, but rather in a tiffin. For his refusal to remove the plantain leaf, it was alleged that the teacher beat up the student. In another incident, the student was alleged to have been beaten up for having arrived ten minutes late to class..The student is said to have eventually requested that his school be changed owing to the harassment by his teachers. However, the prosecution alleged that the harassment continued even after he left the Kottaram school. It was submitted that the accused teachers had called up correspondents in the new school opted by the student and warned them against granting him admission, citing his alleged unruly behaviour..Records before the Court, however, showed that the student was admitted to the new school. The student committed suicide after he attended two days of class in the new school. Subsequently, the three teachers from his previous school were accused of having led him to take his life allegedly on account of the continuing harassment..However, the Court found that there was no positive evidence establishing that the three teachers had made calls to warn against admitting the student in the new school or that they had otherwise driven the student to take his own life. As noted in the judgment,.“… this Court finds that the act of the accused does not exceed the limit of disciplining the student within the school campus and conducting of re-examination or re-testing for the students, who performed poor in the examination and any such incident or words spoken to or uttered by the teachers of the student cannot amount to instigation or incitation for the offence under Section 306 IPC.”.In view of these observations, the Court proceeded to uphold a lower court verdict acquitting all three teachers in the case..Provide psychological counselling for adolescents to prevent student suicides.Before parting with the matter, Justice Teekhaa Raman found it appropriate to suggest measures to counter the immense pressure undergone by school-going students. He observed,.“… it appears that the present educational system gives enormous pressure upon the students to do well in the examination and in the process, as a corollary event, majority act of discipline by the teachers causes mental imbalance to the adolescent agehood…”.To address the rising concern, the judge has mooted introducing measures to assess students and provide counselling services in the interest of their mental well-being..“… it is right time that the State Government has to evaluate/formulate a scheme to envisage for physiological evaluation of all students, who are studying in +1 and +2 and first two years of college as well and to take necessary steps to give psychological counselling to meet the pressure of higher studies in crucial age. “.The Court has directed that the proposal be forwarded to the State’s Education authorities..“… the Registry is directed to forward a copy of this judgment to the Secretary, Higher Secondary Education and Collegiate Education so as to formulate a scheme for physiological evaluation of students in the age group of 16 to 19 and in the appropriate cases, monitor steps to be taken to weed out the self destructive/dysregulated behavior of pupil. “.Bar & Bench is available on WhatsApp. For real-time updates on stories, Click here to subscribe to our WhatsApp.