Monday, November 29, 1999

HRD works on stiff rules against corporal punishment

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Taking cognizance of the Rouvanjit Rawla suicide case, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has begun formulating stringent new guidelines against corporal punishment in schools.Comprehensive new guidelines will examine ways to take penal action against such schools, award compensation to affected students, besides giving more teeth to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), sources told The Indian Express.Thirteen-year-old Rouvanjit, a Class VIII student of the prestigious La Martiniere School for Boys in Kolkata, allegedly committed suicide after he was caned by the principal and hauled up again after an incident involving bursting of crackers.The decision to frame new guidelines was taken today following a meeting between HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, officials of the Department of School Education & Literacy and NCPCR chairperson Shanta Sinha.Comprehensive guidelines on what constitutes corporal punishment will be formulated. These will establish accountability in case a student is subjected to corporal punishment. Elements for compensation will also be incorporated in the new guidelines."The NCPCR or a committee instituted will play a more proactive role. It will be able to take suo motu cognizance in case of an incident where corporal punishment in school has led to a child's death," sources said.In the Right to Education Act that came into effect April 1, Section 17 states that "no child shall be subjected to physical punishment and mental harassment". But the HRD Ministry and the NCPCR feel this clause needs elaboration. The NCPCR is the nodal grievance redressal authority under the Act."In 2000, the Supreme Court banned corporal punishment in schools but it is still rampant. With new Central-level guidelines in place, we hope to correct the situation," an official said.

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