IIT B student suicide: CJI says his heart goes out to the family members


Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Saturday highlighted the importance of empathy in higher educational institutions and expressed concern over instances of alleged suicides by students.

The CJI, who referred to the alleged suicides of a Dalit student at IIT Bombay recently and an Adivasi student in National Law University, Odisha last year, said his heart goes out to the bereaved kin of these students.

“But I have also been wondering where our institutions are going wrong, that the students are forced to give up their precious lives, in these instances,” he said.

Darshan Solanki, a first year student hailing from Gujarat, allegedly died by suicide on February 12 in IIT Bombay.


Incidents of suicide of students from marginalised communities are becoming common, he said.

“These numbers are not just statistics. They are stories sometimes of centuries of struggle. I believe that if we wish to address this issue, the first step is to acknowledge and recognise the problem,” he said, delivering the silver jubilee lecture-cum-convocation address at The National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law here.

He said Sukhdeo Thorat, one of the senior educationists of the country, has noted that if almost all those who have died by suicide in particular situations like Dalits and Adivasis, then it shows a pattern, which we must question.

In our journey of 75 years since independence, we have been focusing on creating “Institutions of Eminence”, but more than that, we need “Institutions of Empathy”, he said, referring to a term which he had read in a news article.

“Some of you may be wondering why the Chief Justice is speaking on this issue. Well, because I think the issue of discrimination is directly linked with the lack of empathy in educational institutions. Furthermore, judges cannot shy away from social realities. Instances of judicial dialogues are common across the globe,” he said.

When the “Black Lives Matter” movement emerged in the United States after the murder of George Floyd, all nine judges on the Washington Supreme Court released a joint statement addressed to the judiciary and the legal community on the “degradation and devaluation of black lives” in the United States, he said.

Judges in India have a crucial role in making a dialogue with the society, inside and outside the courtrooms, to push for social change, he said.

As Chief Justice, apart from his core judicial work and administrative duties, his effort is also to throw light on the structural issues which confront our society, he said.

“Therefore, promoting empathy must be the first step which educational institutions ought to take. Nurturing empathy can end the culture of eliteness and exclusion. This can be done by starting with small steps,” he said.

Allotment of hostels based on entrance marks which leads to caste-based segregation, putting out a public list of marks along with social categories, asking for the marks of Dalit and Adivasi students publicly to humiliate them, making a mockery of their English and physical appearance, stigmatising them as inefficient, not acting on incidents of abuses and bullying, not providing a support system, or reducing or stopping their fellowships are some of the basic things which every educational institution must stop, he said.

“In other words, practising empathy is not just a personal attribute but it requires institutional change,” he said.

Observing that the experiment with NLUs (National Law Universities) was to create accessible institutions focused on quality legal education, and not to create elite institutions, he said, the NLUs, however, have been struggling to be accessible to a wide section of society.

He also said the “sense of entitlement” that NLUs are better than other institutions leads to unnecessary wastage of energy.

Instead, NLUs should be leaders in the field of legal education, which could help other smaller law colleges grow academically and the NLUs ought not to work in a field of isolation.

“Law students studying in NLUs must not look down upon their counterparts from other law schools. After all, the legal profession is such that we are constantly learning and teaching each other,” he said.

Supreme Court judges Justice P S Narasimha, Justice V Ramasubramanian, Telangana High Court Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and several other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)