From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : RTE
Mains level : RTE, Corporal Punishment
Three private school teachers in Pune have been booked under the Juvenile Justice Act over allegedly thrashing three Class 10 students, and threatening to grade them poorly in internal assessments
What is Corporal Punishment?
- By definition, corporal punishment means punishment that is physical in nature.
- There is NO statutory definition of ‘corporal punishment’ targeting children in the Indian law.
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 prohibits ‘physical punishment’ and ‘mental harassment’ under Section 17(1) and makes it a punishable offence under Section 17(2).
Identifying corporal punishments
- According to the Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), physical punishment is understood as any action that causes pain, hurt/injury and discomfort to a child, however light.
- Examples include hitting, kicking, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling the hair, boxing ears, smacking, slapping, spanking, hitting with any implement (cane, stick, shoe, chalk, dusters, belt, whip), giving electric shock and so on.
- It includes making children assume an uncomfortable position (standing on bench, standing against the wall in a chair-like position, standing with school bag on head, holding ears through legs, kneeling, forced ingestion of anything, detention in the classroom, library, toilet or any closed space in the school.
What else is included?
- Mental harassment is understood as any non-physical treatment that is detrimental to the academic and psychological well-being of a child.
- This includes sarcasm, calling names and scolding using humiliating adjectives, intimidation, using derogatory remarks for the child, ridiculing or belittling a child, shaming the child and more.
Safeguards against corporal punishment
- Section 17 of the Right to Education Act, 2009, imposes an absolute bar on corporal punishment.
- Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act prescribes punishment for cruelty to children.
- Violation would invite punishment of rigorous imprisonment upto five years and fine up to Rs 5 lakh.
- If the child is physically incapacitated or develops a mental illness or is rendered mentally unfit to perform regular tasks or has risk to life or limb, then imprisonment may extend upto ten years.
- The RTE Act does not preclude the application of other legislation that relates to the violations of the rights of the child.
- For example, booking the offenses under the IPC and the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989.
- In theory, corporal punishment is covered by all the provisions under Indian law that punish perpetrators of physical harm.
What do NCPCR guidelines say about eliminating corporal punishment?
The NCPCR guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment against children require every school to develop a mechanism and frame clear-cut protocols to address the grievances of students.
- Drop boxes are to be placed where the aggrieved person may drop his complaint and anonymity is to be maintained to protect privacy.
- Every school has to constitute a ‘Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cell’ consisting of two teachers, two parents, one doctor, and one lawyer (nominated by DLSA).
Who is entrusted with the responsibility to ensure children are protected?
- There are relevant authorities earmarked to ensure the protection of children in schools.
- Under Section 31 of the RTE Act, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been entrusted with the task of monitoring children’s right to education.
- The state governments under their RTE rules have also notified block/district level grievance redressal agencies under the RTE Act.