The Law And Childhood

Who can punish whom? What is the crime for which punishment can be inflicted? Whether Parents or Teachers or School managers have any adjudicatory authority to decide circumstances under which a punishment can be inflicted, the quantum, method and timing or punishment?
According to law, the adjudactory authorities alone have authority to hear complaints, try the contentions and draw the conclusions as liability and penalty. The corporal punishment, especially envisages a legal process and appropriate authority to fix the guilt according to established and enforceable law. Not otherwise.
It is both a crime and a civil wrong for holding some one guilty and inflicting penalty, without legal authority.

In India, the education system itself promotes corporal punishment. Teacher is assumed a respectful and thus powerful position. This power includes power to inflict corporal punishment.

A Public Interest Litigation was filed by Parents Forum and Meaningful Education (AIR 2001 Del 212), challenging the provisions of the Delhi School Education Rules 1973 providing for corporal punishment to a student. The rule 37 states the form of disciplinary measures as may be adopted as detention during the break, for neglect of class work, but no detention shall be beyond school hours, secondly to those students who attained age of 14 years as a fine, expulsion and rustication. It states that corporal punishment may be given by the head of the school in cases of persisting impertinence or rude behaviour towards teachers, physical violence, intemperance and serious forms of misbehaviour with other students. It contains some exceptions like corporal punishment should not inflicted on the students who are in ill-health. It shall not be severe or excessive and shall be so administered so as not to cause bodily injury. It imposes a limit of ten strokes with cane on student’s hand with a condition that such a punishment be recorded in the Conduct Register of such a student. The government justified the rule as necessary for inculcating discipline. The Division Bench of Delhi High Court held that corporal punishment was not keeping with a child’s dignity. Justice Anil Dev Singh and Justice Mukundakam Sharma, said that it was cruel to subject a child to physical violence in school in the name of discipline or education. It was held that inflicting physical punishment on a child is not in consonance with his or her right of life guaranteed by Article 21 of Indian Constitution. “Just because child is small he or she cannot be denied of these rights…. Even animals are protected against cruelty. Our children are surely cannot be worse off than animals” said the High Court. The Court also said that there had been instances where children have been traumatized and beaten in schools causing grave injuries to them on account of their innocent pranks, mistakes and mischief.

Recently in Tamil Nadu, the Education Minister advised parents to pursue remedies for mental and physical torture. The Schools were instructed to avoid corporal punishment (The Hindu, 18th June 2003). A fifth Standard student was allegedly caned for being a slow writer. New set of revised Tamil Nadu Education Rules had been framed wherein the Rule 51 is replaced with a provision recommending every child to be given an opportunity to learn error of his or her ways through corrective measures. While making it clear that the school shall not cause mental or physical pain to the child. The imposition and suspension from class are some of the corrective measures suggested. However, these rules did not define torture and punitive measures were not prescribed for violations. A 16 year old boy Ram Abhinav, a student of class 10 in Southern City of Chennai committed suicide after allegedly being thrashed by a teacher for skipping school on his birth day. He left a note saying that he was killing himself because he did not want to go to school.

Goa Assembly passed recently (30th April 2003) Goa Children’s Act, 2003 to ban the corporal punishment.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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