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.
Corporal punishment means punishment that is physical in nature.
There is no statutory definition of 'corporal punishment' targeting children in the Indian law.
However, 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).
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, and forced ingestion of anything, detention in the classroom, library, toilet or any closed space in the school.
Mental harassment is understood as any non-physical treatment that is detrimental to the academic and psychological well-being of a child including 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.
What are provisions under the law against such punishment?
Section 17 of the Right to Education Act, 2009, imposes an absolute bar on corporal punishment.
It prohibits physical punishment and mental harassment to children and prescribes disciplinary action to be taken against the guilty person in accordance with the service rules applicable to such person.
Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act prescribes punishment for cruelty to children. In case of Corporal punishment, the accused would be penalised with rigorous imprisonment upto five years and fine up to Rs 5 lakh.
In theory, corporal punishment is covered by all the provisions under Indian law that punish perpetrators of physical harm.
While these provisions make no distinction between adults and children, in practice, corporal punishment in schools and other institutions tends not to be prosecuted because it is still accepted socially at several places.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
The NCPCR guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment against children require every school to develop a mechanism and frame clear cut protocols to address 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
one lawyer (nominated by DLSA),
an independent child rights activist of that area and two senior students from that school.
This CPMC shall look into complaints of corporal punishment.
CBSE has also issued guidelines to schools for ensuring an atmosphere free from fear in each affiliated school.