Understanding Child Bullying Laws and Anti Ragging Measures in India

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Bullying means an intention to harm or intimidate a person and happens when there is an imbalance of power. Nowadays, bullying has become more common in schools and universities, and there is a constant need of concern to put an end to bullying and ragging in our educational institutions.

Image Source: ScooNews

Bullying can be in any form – verbal, physical or mental and is the main cause for distress and provocation. The act of bullying acts like a source of trauma for children and young adults which leads to mental distress, depression, anxiety and also suicide. Bullying is a way of expression in which the bullies can gain sadistic pleasure by showing their strength to undermine the victim’s dignity.

CBSE anti-bullying laws 

Anti-bullying committees 

In 2005, as cases of bullying grew, CBSE issued guidelines for setting up a committee consisting of vice-principal, senior teacher, school doctor, counsellor, parent-teacher representative, school doctor, counsellor, parent-teacher representative and peer educators.

Guidelines 

  1. Development of school bullying prevention plan.
  2. Implement a bullying prevention program
  3. Be vigilant and observe signs of bullying
  4. Employ trained counsellors to deal with victims.
  5. Appoint sentinels and monitors from the student community
  6. Education on human rights, democratic values, respect for diversity and equality and respect for privacy and dignity of others.
  7. Comprehensive guidelines regarding actions and penalties by school management inclusive of oral/written statement, suspension, withholding or cancelling results, imposition of fine.

Bullying in College

UGC Circular

UGC issued a landmark notification in 2009 regarding measures to curb ragging in higher secondary institutions which have been amended thrice.

Definitions of ragging by UGC

  1. Any disorderly conduct whether by words spoken or written or by an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness a fresher or a junior student.
  2. Indulgence in rowdy or undisciplined activities which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student.

Measures for prevention 

  • The Circular should be displayed on all brochures of admission and should also include numbers of the anti-ragging helpline.
  • The application should include an agreement that the students understand the rules and regulations against ragging and promise to abide by them.
  • The circular requires colleges to identify vulnerable areas on campus that needs constant monitoring.
  • If the institution is affiliated with a parent university then the head of the institution needs to submit a weekly report and practice of Anti-ragging measures to the vice-chancellor who in turn will submit a fortnightly report to the state level monitoring cell.

Relevant provisions of the Indian penal code 

College students who engage in bullying or ragging are above 18 years of age and therefore come under the purview of IPC.

  1. Section 506 – Criminal intimidation:- Criminal intimidation is used by offenders to force students to not report the incident.
  2. Section 323 to 326 – Causing hurt, grievous hurt and punishment:- Many juniors across medical, engineering and other colleges have to face physical abuse and sometimes have to endure for long periods.
  3. Section 304 – Culpable homicide:- Seniors in colleges across the country, often in inebriated states, cause such serious harm to juniors while committing ragging, that it results in their death.
  4. Section 306 – Abetment of suicide:- without able to tolerate the bullying and not being able to share with anyone a victim may commit suicide, in that case, the offender shall be liable under section 306.

Raghavan Committee Report

This committee was set up by the HRD ministry which observed the following in 2007.

  1. Inaction of college administrators
  2. Lack of civil society initiatives to spread awareness
  3. Rise of off-campus incidents
  4. Increase in cyberbullying and cyber ragging
  5. High need for counselling
  6. Ragging and bullying are majorly influenced by politics and power 7. Lack of co-curricular activities in institutions
  7. Pressure upon victims not to report

Solution 

  1. Law enforcement agencies and college authorities have to work together 2. Increased parent-teachers meeting
  2. Awareness through the debate on the meaning of ragging and its breeding as an atmosphere of fear.

Study of definition by State laws on ragging 

  1. Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999

“Display or disorderly conduct, doing of any act which causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological harm or raise apprehension or fear or shame or embarrassment to a student in any educational institution.”

  1. Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998

“Teasing, abusing or causing hurt or asking students to do an act which he is unwilling to do.”

  1. Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1997

“Ragging means the display of raucous, rowdy or disorderly conduct, doing any act, which causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological harm or raise apprehension or fear or shame or embarrassment to a student in any educational institution and includes teasing, abusing of, playing practical jokes on or causing hurt to, such students; or asking the student to do any act or perform something, which such student will not, in the ordinary course, willingly do.”

  1. West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutions Act, 2000

“Ragging means doing of any act, which causes or is likely to cause, any physical, psychological or physiological harm of apprehension or shame or embarrassment to a student and includes teasing or abusing of, playing practical jokes on, or causing hurt to, any student, or asking any student to do any act, or perform anything, which he would not, in the ordinary course, be willing to do or perform.”

  1. Assam Prohibition of Ragging Bill, 1998

“Ragging means either display of noisy or disorderly conduct or doing of any act which causes or is likely to cause social, physical or psychological harm or raise apprehension or fear or shame or embarrassment to any student in any educational institution and includes teasing, abusing of, playing practical jokes on or causing hurt to, such students; or asking the student to do any act or perform something which such student will not, in the ordinary course, willingly do.”

Recommendations of the committee 

  1. Need for strong and uniform ragging law
  2. Surprise checks and spontaneous anonymous investigations to be carried out to regulate ragging and encourage students to report incidents.
  3. Setting up anti-ragging cells at the central, state and within the college as well. 4. A new section should be added to the IPC against ragging.
  4. Recommendations as to the procedure of investigation.
  5. Setup of toll-free helpline for ragging victims.
  6. NCERT, SCERT school books must contain a chapter on the dangers and excesses of ragging.
  7. Psychological counselling on anti-ragging and human rights at senior secondary.

Other suggestions 

  1. Holding college and school administrations and local authorities responsible and increasing accountability.
  2. Implement guidelines of the Raghavan committee
  3. Ensuring mental health experts and counsellors are present across schools and campuses.
  4. Proper redressal mechanisms have to be in place.
  5. Strict penalties and punishment.
  6. Involvement of parents in the anti-bullying and anti-ragging programs of institutions 7. Focus on prevention rather than redressal, incorporating moral values.

A Case law to understand the situation better: Ajmal PM Case

Ajmal, a local of Kannur in Kerala and first-year aeronautical student of Sha-Shib College close to Yelahanka Air Force base, was admitted to the clinic with 65% burn injuries on March 22. The fire was caused by his bullies in a roofless bathroom while he was bathing. Police enquired students about ragging in their hostel and college, they kept mum. Ajmal’s body was taken to the place where he grew up on Friday. Unfortunately, Ajmal’s condition was too critical, and he succumbed to his injuries.


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