The Supreme Court on Thursday, 24th September,2020 had dismissed the plea seeking directions to the Centre and Indian Institute of Technology in the country to implement a “student wellness program”. The Bench comprised of Justice RF Nariman, Justice Navin Sinha, and Justice Indira Banerjee who called the plea a frivolous Public Interest Litigation and dismissed it.
The Apex Court was of the opinion that the government was aware of the prevailing condition and dismissed the plea filed by Advocate Gaurav Bansal which asked for a “student well program” as the number of suicides by the IIT students was rising across the nation. The Bench was furious with the application and stated, “This is an utterly frivolous petition. Tell us how much we should impose on you?’ We are dismissing the plea with Rs 10,000/- as cost payable to the legal services authority.”
The Advocate mentioned that around 50 students had committed suicide in IIT in this half-decade and requested the Court to intervene in this matter and direct the Union Education Ministry and all the IITs to articulate and implement a “Student Wellness Program”, for their general wellness. He also referred that a committee has been formed by the Kanpur IIT specifically to look for matters related to suicide committed by students but there has been no improvement in the rate of increasing suicides among the students. The court stated regarding the directions from the Centre and told that the Centre is alive and aware of the current situation. The plea filed sought for a direction to 13 IITs to “forthwith plan, design, formulate and effectively implement student health wellness program focusing on prevention and reduction of suicides within their Institutions as mentioned under Section 29 and Section 115 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.” Section 29 of the Mental Healthcare Act defines “Promotion of mental health and preventive programs”
- The appropriate Government shall have a duty to plan, design, and implement programs for the promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness in the country. Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions contained in sub-section (1), the appropriate Government shall, in particular, plan, design, and implement public health programs to reduce suicides and attempted suicides in the country.
Section 115 of the Mental Healthcare Act talks about “Presumption of severe stress in case of attempt to commit suicide”
- Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code.
- The appropriate Government shall have a duty to provide care, treatment, and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of attempt to commit suicide.
In accordance with these sections the petition had sought and issuance from the Court directing the IITs to provide aid and support to their own students and help them to recover from the suicidal tendencies by calling on the helplines or call centers at their respective institute level.