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Ragging in educational institutions in India - Know its Law and implications

Ragging in India as defined by dictionary means to subject to a tease, especially in an intense or prolonged way or to torment with jokes, play crude practical jokes, etc. Mostly, we can see that ragging is done in colleges and educational institutions where the juniors are ragged by Seniors. The question is to what extent ragging is acceptable. Let's find out.
Written by:
Shivam Srivastava
Published on
17-May-18

“Jahapana tussi great ho...tohfa kabool karo… (Your Majesty, thou art great...accept this humble offering…)

Remember this scene from the movie 3 Idiots, where college freshmen were seen following a college campus tradition - On day 1, paying their respects to seniors. As much as we all enjoyed watching this scene, we realised it was something, we all had gone through once in our lifetimes.

Yes! I am referring to Ragging in India, a tradition, a practice which has got transformed from being friendly junior-senior interactions to violent, abusive, tortuous one (psychological or physical) over few past decade. 

Ragging in India (initiation ritual) as defined by dictionary means “to subject to a tease, especially in an intense or prolonged way or to torment with jokes, play crude practical jokes, etc. Ragging in educational institutes is often practiced in higher education institutions of South Asian Countries, something similar to hazing which is practices in North America, bizutage in France, praxe in portugal, and list continues across the globe.

According to the Chambers English Dictionary, Ragging is an outburst of organized horseplay, usually in defiance of authority, riotous festivity, especially of undergraduates in British Universities, associated with the raising of money for charity. 

According to the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedia Dictionary, "Ragging means a noisy disorderly conduct, annual parade of students in fancy dress to collect money for charity, playing rough jokes, or throwing into wild disorder a person’s room etc."

 

Ragging in India

Ragging, No doubt is a matter of shame despite being topical and banned for a decade, we still encounter stories of such incidents of inhuman torture through ragging in India. As a result, it has become an unpleasant affair of colleges due to which many students who fall prey to it, give up their studies, go back home, take extreme steps or get seriously injured.

In 2013, during a national survey done by CURE (Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education) over 10,632 students over 37 different colleges (both professional and other colleges) and high schools across the country. It was found that ragging in India still continues to be prevalent, with nearly 40% of students canvassed reported being ragged, and 4% severely hurt.  Among students who fell prey to ragging in India the results seemed to be divided (55% believed it should be permitted within limits, 43% believed it must be stopped/banned, where as remaining 2% believed that it must be allowed as it is). On one hand where they considered it as a good way to build bonds with seniors and boost self confidence, on other hand, few believed it to leave long lasting adverse effects on studies. Surprisingly, it was discovered that a large numbers of teachers support ragging in India and argued that it helped them while they were in colleges and enjoyed being ragged. They were even found encouraging students to participate in activities involving ragging in India, only 25% of them agreed that it should be banned whereas remaining agreed it to be allowed in “acceptable” way.

Ragging and Legality involved

In 1998, Vishwa Jagriti Mission, a NGO filled a Civil writ petition against ragging in India to the Supreme Court of India against Govt. of India, Ministry of Education, University grant commission, IIT and YMCA engineering college (656 OF 1998) under Article 32 pleading it to be violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. SC observed and raised its concern over rising number of incidents of ragging in colleges where incidents have even crossed the limits of decency, morality and humanity. Hence, they stated that ragging in colleges or educational institutions or ragging in India per se cannot be cured merely by making it a cognizable criminal offence. Moreover, students, teachers and parents should be encouraged and educated about ragging in India and an act of ragging in India is blameworthy act which does no good to any one and by simultaneously, generating an atmosphere of discipline by sending a clear message that no act of ragging in India shall be tolerated and any act of ragging in India shall not go unnoticed and unpunished.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India perhaps has given a more comprehensive meaning of ragging in India as Ragging in India is 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 student, indulging in rowdy or indisciplined activities which cause or are likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the psyche of a fresher or a junior student.

In order to deal with ragging in colleges, central legislation has made several provisions in order to curb down process of ragging in India. So any student or group which is caught raging in India a junior or a fresher, can be booked under any of the following provisions based on severity of the act for ragging in India.

  • Indian Penal Code - A complaint in name of ragging in India can be lodged by a student under following provisions

  1. Section 294 - Obscene acts and songs - Anyone who does any obscene act in any public place or utters such words shall be punished with imprisonment upto 3 months.

  2. Section 323 - Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt - If the person causing injury was aware of the that he is likely to cause hurt, shall be convicted under this section. A correspondence between the result and the intention or the knowledge of the accused shall be taken into account.

  3. Section 324 – Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon or means - It is a cognizable offence which is non-bailable. If the intention of the accused is established then he shall be imprisoned upto 3 years.

  4. Section 325 – Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt - This section is similar to previous section, non-bailable with imprisonment upto 7 years.

  5. Section 326 – Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapon - If any person is hurt voluntarily by means of any instrument which might result in either serious injury or death, then such accused shall be punished upto 10 years of imprisonment depending upon seriousness of damage caused.

  6. Section 339 – Wrongful Restraint - An act to obstructing way of juniors in order to cause trouble or prevent them from proceeding towards any direction in which he/she has a right to proceed, shall be an act of offence under Anti-ragging rules.

  7. Section 341 – Punishment for Wrongful Restraint - Anyone who is found doing such wrongful restrainment, shall be punished upto 1 month imprisonment or with fine of Rs. 500.

  8. Section 340 – Wrongful Confinement - An act of confining juniors in a room or classroom in order to trouble them or harass them, shall be considered as an act of offence.

  9. Section 342 – Punishment for Wrongful Confinement - Anyone who is found doing such wrongful restrainment, shall be punished upto 1 year imprisonment or with fine of Rs. 1000 or both.

  10. Section 506 – Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder - whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to two years, or with fine, or with both.

  • UGC Regulation on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009 - In view of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 8.05.2009 and UGC regulations was passed in 2009 in order to eliminate ragging in India in all its forms from colleges or educational institutions, and preventing  the occurrence of ragging in India and punishing those who indulge in ragging in India as provided for in these Regulations and the appropriate law in force. 

  • Any other Institution specific regulation - With aim of eliminating ragging from college or educational institutions, certain responsibilities were given to institution authorities in order to deal with the problems of ragging in India and to educate students on such issues. 

MEASURES FOR PROHIBITION OF RAGGING IN INDIA

There are a number of such measures at institution level, University Level, District level etc. Some of them that are important for students to know are as follows:

  • No institution shall permit or condone any reported incident of ragging in India in any form; and all institutions shall take all necessary and required measures, to achieve the objective of eliminating ragging in India, within the campus.

  • Any distress message received at the Anti-Ragging Helpline shall be simultaneously relayed to the Head of the Institution, the Warden of the Hostels, the Nodal Officer of the affiliating University, and shall also be web enabled so as to be in the public domain simultaneously for the media and citizens to access it.

  • On receipt of the recommendation of the Anti Ragging Squad or on receipt of any information concerning any reported incident of ragging in India, the Head of institution shall immediately proceed to file a First Information Report (FIR), within twenty four hours of receipt of such information or recommendation, with the police and local authorities, under the appropriate penal provisions against the ragging in college.

  • The Commission shall maintain an appropriate database to be created out of affidavits, affirmed by each student and his/her parents/guardians and such database shall also function as a record of ragging in India complaints received, and the status of the action taken thereon.

ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION IN THE EVENT OF RAGGING IN COLLEGE

The institution shall punish a student found guilty of ragging in India in educational institution after following the procedure and in the manner prescribed here in under:

  • The Anti-Ragging Committee of the institution shall take an appropriate decision, in regard to punishment or otherwise, depending on the facts of each incident of ragging in college and nature and gravity of the incident of ragging in college established in the recommendations of the Anti-Ragging Squad.

  • The Anti-Ragging Committee may, depending on the nature and gravity of the guilt established by the Anti-Ragging Squad, award, to those found guilty of ragging in educational institution in India, one or more of the following punishments, namely;

  1. Suspension from attending classes and academic privileges;

  2. Withholding/ withdrawing scholarship/ fellowship and other benefits;

  3. Debarring from appearing in any test/ examination or other evaluation process;

  4. Withholding results;

  5. Debarring from representing the institution in any regional, national or international meet, tournament, youth festival, etc.;

  6. Suspension/ expulsion from the hostel;

  7. Cancellation of admission;

  8. Rustication from the institution for period ranging from one to four semesters;

  9. Expulsion from the institution and consequent debarring from admission to any other institution for a specified period.

  • Provided that where the persons committing or abetting the act of ragging are not identified, the institution shall resort to collective punishment. 

  • An appeal against the order of punishment by the Anti-Ragging Committee shall lie, 

  1. In case of an order of an institution, affiliated to or constituent part, of a University, to the Vice-Chancellor of the University; 

  2. In case of an order of a University, to its Chancellor. 

  3. In case of an institution of national importance created by an Act of Parliament, to the Chairman or Chancellor of the institution, as the case may be. 

Where in the opinion of the appointing authority, a lapse is attributable to any member of the faculty or staff of the institution, in the matter of reporting or taking prompt action to prevent an incident of ragging in India or ragging in college or who display an apathetic or insensitive attitude towards complaints of ragging, or who fail to take timely steps.

Whether required under these Regulations or otherwise, to prevent an incident or incidents of ragging in college, then such authority shall initiate departmental disciplinary action, in accordance with the prescribed procedure of the institution, against such member of the faculty or staff. Provided that where such lapse is attributable to the Head of the institution, the authority designated to appoint such Head shall take such departmental disciplinary action; and such action shall be without prejudice to any action that may be taken under the penal laws for abetment of ragging in college for failure to take timely steps in the prevention of ragging in college or punishing any student found guilty of ragging in educational institution

In case, you find yourself in any such situation where you feel you are being ragged by seniors or by an individual, feel free to reachout on UGC’s 24X7 toll free numbers 1800 180 5522 or drop them an email on helpline@antiragging.in.

The law and order approach to combating ragging will reap any fruits because the roots of ragging in college lies in our so called hippocratic society. This culture of ragging in colleges needs to be cured by not development of young minds, but with the development of proper system to regulate it, as well as from the socio-cultural context, where respecting one’s dignity and mental peace should be promoted rather than making fun out of it, by making right friends and to be mentally ready to take and handle real world. So instead of just blaming colleges or educational institutions, we must educate our kids and young minds to replicate such culture of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence. 

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