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State not responsible for man's suicide because of exorbitant fees demanded by private school : Madras HC

  • The topic of education rights to all the children has been a pressing issue around the country. The debate has been going on for years but a concrete answer is yet to be found. The education costs have also risen to such an extent that the people are forced to adopt extreme measures due to the inability to cope with the pressure.

    The Madras High Court Bench consisting of Justices Nooty Ramamohana Rao and S.S. Sundar recently dismissed a writ appeal, filed by a widow seeking compensation from the State government. This appeal was against the writ petition which was disposed of by the Single Judge on 29.03.2016. The petitioner sought compensation for the death of her husband who committed suicide after killing one of their two children allegedly due to exorbitant fees demanded by a private school. In other words, the School Management is fleecing the parents of the students on one ground or the other, instead of confining the collection of fee strictly in accordance with the provisions contained in the Tamil Nadu Schools (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act, 2009.

    “Instead of logically pursuing the remedies available, the husband of the writ petitioner herein has resorted to an extremely violent act of killing one of their children and then committing suicide.” The writ petitioner now seeks relief of securing free education for the remaining and surviving child and also compensation for the double tragedy .

    “The distressful economic conditions alone may not have forced the husband of the writ petitioner herein to take recourse to the said action which can also be reasonably attributed to a mental aberration. The petitioner now seeks compensation for the double tragedy of hers but we are at a loss to appreciate the contention canvassed in this regard”, Justice Rao said “Firstly, the act of the husband of the writ petitioner in killing an innocent child out of frustration cannot be appreciated at all.” There were several civilised methods of providing education to children by either admitting them in government-run educational institutions or approaching philanthropic organisations for financial support. There are well recognized and civilised methods to secure education to the children.

    The State Government, as a measure of welfare of the Society at large, has been running and maintaining several institutions for promoting the cause of education, so that, the economic distressful conditions of the family would not be a cause for children from dropping out from the academic life. There are also philanthropic organizations which lend support in the Society. Had the petitioner’s husband survived he would have been prosecuted for killing his innocent child. Under Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, victims can be compensated by the courts but such compensation is liable to be awarded for any loss or injury caused by the offence though not otherwise. In the present case, the offence has been committed by the husband of the writ petitioner towards an innocent child, if there is one who will have to compensate for having caused loss of the child of the writ petitioner, that would be none else than her husband. Since he is no more, he cannot be prosecuted.

    “Therefore, the claim of the petitioner for payment of compensation against the State Government, to say is a milder manner, an extravagant one. State is nowhere responsible for the violent action unleashed by the husband of the writ petitioner.” The bench suggested, “If the petitioner still feels that the economic condition in which, currently she is living did not provide her a fair chance or option to get her surviving child educated properly, it is open to her to seek appropriate assistance from the Welfare Officer concerned, so that, the surviving child can get admitted in one Welfare Institution or the other where the State Government would bear the expenditure for better education.”
     

    OUR TAKE

    The act of the individual in this case has been one which was out of despair and irrational thinking. Although the situation is a grim and sad one to say the least, the person should indeed have looked out for other alternatives to support the family. Many around the world are struggling day in and day out just to make ends meet. The right to the compensation would be feasible if the children were not going to school because of economic reasons. Then the state government should surely help the family out. But as it is always said, those who cannot help themselves, even God cannot help them.
     


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