Corporal punishment on children: File case against perpetrators
By P P Baburaj
The newly introduced Right to Education Act (RTEA) 2009 has taken a strict position against corporal punishment in schools. Section 17 of this Central Act prohibits physical and mental harassment and punishment on children. Prior to the enactment of RTEA, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had issued strict guidelines to all the state governments to follow ban on corporal punishment. Supreme Court also has struck down on this issue.
Despite all these strictures, schools have not stopped corporal punishment on children. You speak to any child who goes to school; he/she would have a tale of torture to share with you. Some teachers do not talk or ask questions to the child who has not done home work or complied with the school guidelines. The confused child undergoes severe mental pressure on the teacher’s discriminatory behaviour. There are instances of children getting into psycho social disorders, thanks to the teachers’ rude behaviour. Parents, majority of them, support such disciplining measures and sometimes, advocate for even stricter disciplinary measures. Calling idiot or such demeaning words in the class room creates humiliation in children.
Corporal punishment amounts to cruelty against children. It is a cognizable offence under section 23 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000. The offence under this section is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or fine, or with both. The Act has been implemented by the Governments in all the states. Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), constituted under the Act in every district is empowered to invoke this provision under section 23 against the perpetrators.
Moreover, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has been given the responsibility to monitor the implementation of the Act under chapter 6 of RTEA. Any violation of any provision of the Act can be reported to SCPCR or NCPCR. After conducting due enquiry, Commission can recommend for suitable action to the competitive authority against the perpetrators.
If any child or parent on behalf of the child brings the issue of corporal punishment into the notice of JJB, an inquiry into the incident shall be initiated against the perpetrator. Unfortunately, no child or parent has so far approached JJB for violation of rights. JJB also has not stuck down its suo moto powers to book the masters of corporal punishment. JJB, a three-member bench of first class magistrates, functions from the Observation Home or court premises. Action can be initiated against any school authority based on a complaint addressed to the chairperson of JJB.
(Author is member of Juvenile Justice Board, Mysore)