ANTI-RAGGING REGIME IN INDIA
By: Deepika Dhawaniya* |
Ragging is an activity in schools, hostels and other institutions of higher learning in which, through verbal or physical bullying and intimidation, the senior or a dominant person attempts to demoralize and defame the juniors. Recently in 2019, a ragging case came in which Payal Tadvi, a postgraduate medical student committed suicide in her hostel room. The reason behind her suicide was that three senior doctors had allegedly treated her badly and taunted her for having secured admission under reservation. Also, she was threatened to deny her entry to the hospital's operation theatre. They told her that she would not be allowed to perform deliveries or study further. All because she had gone out for dinner.
Even though ragging is abolished expressly in almost all nations, it is still prevalent in many countries. In order to check this ill-practice of ragging, legion number of regulations have been passed by the government of various states. The present article elaborates on the issue as to what are the facets due to which ragging is still prevalent even after the existence of so many laws and regulations. And how the evolution of anti-ragging laws took place in India. Lastly, certain recommendations have also be mentioned to curb the menace.
RAGGING AND ITS CAUSES
Ragging is defined by the Supreme Court in the Vishwa Jagriti case as "any disorderly conduct whether by words spoken or written or by an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness any other student, indulging 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 or asking the students to do any act or perform something which such student will not in the ordinary course and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of a fresher or a junior student."
Ragging carries itself with no cause of occurrence as it is a source of enjoyment for the seniors. Nevertheless, there are some children who lack moral and social values and do not know how to act before the ones who are senior to them, which in itself becomes one of the reasons of ragging the young flock. They just want to show their seniority even when they do not think what will be the impact of their actions. Today's generation finds it more convenient in committing suicide when such bad thing happens to them as that is so devilish. But it is said that incorrigible man can never be cured like "a snake which never forgets to bite even though fed with the costliest milk".
Another reason can be that when a person is a victim of a crime, he thinks of committing the same crime with another person, the same thing happens with the seniors. This hierarchy is followed because seniors think that if they have been ragged by their superiors then it is now their turn to rag their juniors. Therefore, it necessary to eliminate ragging from the very root.
The reasons never end as the upcoming cause of ragging is increased usage of alcohol by the students which derails the nervous system eventually leading to short-temper which subsequently results in causing menace and getting angry on very petty things and this activity aggravates when a small mistake is made by a junior that hurts the ego of the senior who, as a result of this, rags his junior in a very brutal manner.
The last but not the least reason is the improper implementation of laws in India. Sometimes, in most of the reputed colleges, students come from very strong political and economic backgrounds which demotivates other people to file a complaint against them for taking ragging of their juniors. The strong economic and political background is one such aspect which derails the systematic operation of laws. Parents lure the officials with money and sometimes the officials are afraid to go against their children due to strong political connections associated with them.
But the story does not end just by passing a law, the main step is to attain the objective of that law which can only be achieved if the law passed is actually implemented in its true spirit and true sense. Currently, most of the legislations passed looks like stillborn laws which defeats the true essence of its objective. Legislation passed in order to regulate the menace of ragging fall in the same category. They are like elephant’s teeth which are said to be of two types- superficial and real.
All these causes have a direct impact on the psychological and mental behaviour of a child. The foremost implication is the diversion of mind from a productive path to a non-productive path that directly affects the study pattern of the students which subsequently leads to a situation where the student is not able to make choices for his career and falls in the pit of destructive future.
EVOLUTION OF ANTI-RAGGING LAWS IN INDIA
Pon Navarasu / John David Ragging Case – One of the most heinous and crucial cases of ragging was found in 1996. In this case, a 19-year-old first-year student was murdered, and his body parts were scattered in different parts of Tamil Nadu. This murder was done by one of the seniors of the Navarasu (accused) during ragging time. The horrendous nature of the crime shook the entire Tamil Nadu people. Therefore, they demanded anti-ragging laws. Hence, in 1997 Tamil Nadu government passed an ordinance criminalizing ragging. Later, this ordinance converted into the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1997 and Tamil Nadu become the first state to criminalize ragging in educational institutions.
Maharashtra government jolted into action after the incident of Payal Tadvi, who was a 2nd-year medical postgraduate student. She belongs to a lower caste family; therefore, she was subjected to caste-based discrimination by her seniors and also, she became a victim of sexual harassment. To curb and punish assailants for menace like ragging, the Maharashtra government implemented the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999. Under this act, ragging was punishable with a sentence of up to 2 years or fine up to 10,000.
To answer all the questions which were raised in the various ragging cases like what were the universities or colleges doing for curbing menace like ragging, Dr. R.K Raghavan Committee was set up in 2006 by the Supreme Court of India. Based on the report of this committee, the Supreme Court made it compulsory for every educational institution to file an F.I.R, in case ragging takes place rather than taking action by the institution’s own ad-hoc body.
Major reforms and efforts towards anti-ragging came after Vishwa Jagriti Mission Through vs Central Govt, Through Cabinet case. In this case, the Supreme Court defined ragging and then it gave suggestions as to how an institution can stop these activities. It recommended that ragging can be stopped by creating awareness among the teachers, students and their parents that ragging is not a good activity, and one should not tolerate it. Also, right from the admission, it should be made very clear that ragging is prohibited in the institutions and whoever found indulging in ragging must be punished with various punishments like he/she either be expelled from the institution or maybe rusticated and can be punished with another form of punishment mentioned in the U.G.C. guidelines. In the institutions, teachers and management should interact with students and develop confidence in them that if they face any form of ragging, then they have to file a complaint instead of tolerating harassment. At last, the Supreme Court said that the University Grant Commission (U.G.C.) should inform all the educational institutions of these guidelines.
No specific provisions are mentioned under the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.) for activities like ragging, bullying, but there are some provisions that can be used while filing an F.I.R. against a person indulging in these activities. Sections like 339 to 348 are used for filing an F.I.R. for 'wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement' while Section 349 to 351 are used for filing a complaint under assault.
Apart from these provisions, states have their own laws to deal with ragging and these states are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Chandigarh, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Assam. For example, the Tripura Educational Institutional Institutions (Prevention of Ragging) Act, 1990. This act was implemented by the Tripura government to eradicate ragging. Under Section 3 of this act, the accused can be sentenced for up to 4 years or with fine or both. Like this act, there are some other acts also which were implemented by different states to curb this activity. Maharashtra implemented “Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999” in which it is provided under section 4 of the act that anyone found to be indulged in activities under the definition of ragging shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend upto 2 years and a fine of ten thousand rupees.
CURRENT SITUATION OF RAGGING IN INDIA
According to the official data provided in the Lok Sabha, the University Grants Commission (U.G.C.) received 3,022 complaints regarding students ragging between 2013 and 2017. Between this time period, ragging incidents increased by almost 41% (640 to 901) and solely in the year 2016, ragging cases increased by 75% (515 to 901). Most of the ragging cases were reported in Uttar Pradesh. After U.P., Madhya Pradesh is the next state where a large number of ragging cases were reported.
Although the issuance of U.G.C. guidelines on ragging cases was more effective according to the Medical Council of India's report in the year 2019-20, as only 6 cases were found. It means that tradition of ragging is decreasing day by day. It might also be possible that most of the cases are not at all brought to light leading to under-reporting of the cases. We can root out the evil practice like ragging if teachers, students and parents are made aware of such evil practices.
In a Supreme Court-mandated psycho-social study, it was found that some students thought that ragging has a positive impact on their lives while others feel that it has an adverse impact. Positive impacts like they enjoyed their ragging while others said that initially, they feel bad, but all these things become normal for them after a period of time. While some of them feel that it made them stronger for the future so that they can deal harness of the outside world, also, it helps in making friends, made college life more interesting.
The anti-ragging laws that are currently in force, as discussed in the earlier part of the article, seems to be robust but lacks implementation which defeats the whole purpose of getting a law in force. Names of most of the accused who are found to be guilty of ragging are not revealed by the universities and schools itself as doing so would tarnish their reputation and image in front of the public that would have a direct impact on the enrolment rate of students in these institutions. Corruption is another leviathan in front of the utopian system of education as those students found guilty of ragging are set Scott-free due to high influence of their family background and the money inflow in the hands of deciding authorities. One of the most common reasons of lack in implementation of laws and rules is the habit of breaking laws by the Indians. This habit is imbibed in the blood of Indians to such an extent that it is exactly similar to a situation of treating a cancer patient who is in his last stage of the disease. The only difference is that this habit is transferable in the generations of human beings and cancer is not transferable which makes this habit even more detrimental.
Ragging is such a menace which can peril a student’s career. It is a problem with the students and by the student and therefore, the answer and solution for the same is also in the hands of students Sometimes their socio-economic background shows them the hardships of life, this hampers their psychological growth and leads them to a behavioural outburst- resulting in the victimization of individuals who are unable to protect themselves against this injustice. This stage is cardinal for schools and universities in order to keep in the integrity of the temples of education and the exposure in learning which is to be experienced by the upcoming generations. It is very important to make the students see a utopian world vacuumed of ragging for them to realise the true spirit of ethics and values which play a cardinal role in a student's life. Before anything more gruesome occurs in the pious premises of schools and colleges, it is quintessential for the student and teacher community to join hands for stopping this menace in order to curb the devious activities against young generation which is responsible for upholding the nation’s future.
* The author is a student of National Law University, Jodhpur.
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