Corporal punishment in India: Concept and laws

Corporal Punishment in India: Concept and Laws

This article on ‘Corporal punishment: Concept and laws in India‘ was written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.

Introduction

It is very common for people, especially parents and teachers, to use some sort of physical violence to “induce discipline” in their children or students. It can be something minor like having him stand on a bench or using force and beating the child. This method of “inducing discipline” has been banned by the government under several laws. This article will take a look at the concept of corporal punishment and the laws regarding the same.

What is Corporal Punishment?

Corporal Punishment is when a type of punishment that involves physically hitting someone. The punishment intends to inflict physical pain on someone, commonly minors, so that they do not repeat the mistake which caused the punishment. It is commonly used for prisoners as well. The most common types of physical violence against a prisoner are caning and whipping. Violence against both a minor and a prisoner has been abolished in most countries. However, a few of the former British territories and Muslim-majority countries still use corporal punishment and it is still legal in a few countries.

Types of Corporal Punishment in schools

Even though corporal punishment is banned in India through several Acts and even fundamental rights, teachers still use some sort of physical punishment on their students. Below are the three types of corporal punishments used in schools.

  1. Physical – This type includes all types of physical violence or punishments like hitting the child with a belt, a shoe, or a stick, pinching and grabbing ears, or hair. It also includes a few things which might not seem obvious but it does come under physical corporal punishment like making the child stand on a bench or making him stand in an uncomfortable position while making him hold his ears. Teachers also cannot make him stay back during recess or the games period.
  2. Mental – Insulting him in front of his peers, scolding the child and calling him with insulting adjectives, saying that the child is suffering from a mental disease and insulting them for a poor score in their exams, and making fun of a child who is suffering from some sort of mental illness or stammer.
  3. It also includes discriminatory corporal punishment which means treating the child differently because of their caste, creed, gender, or financial background

Corporal Punishment in India

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development revealed some shocking truths about the physical and mental abuse of children in India. Nearly 12500 students between the age of 5-18 were interviewed from 13 different states. 

The study found out that out of the 65% of the students who faced physical abuse, 54% were boys and 45% were girls. More than 50% of the participants said that they faced sexual abuse. The study also named a few states where corporal punishment was most prevalent which were Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Mizoram where Goa, and Rajasthan reported low numbers of punishments. It was also found that on average at least 5 students faced beating per school per day.

Moreover, the study also included emotional abuse of students. 1 in 2 students faced emotional abuse in school. Parents were the primary abuser in this type of abuse. Nearly half of the girls wished they were boys. Children between the ages of 5-12 were most vulnerable to abuse.

Corporal punishment  in India: Concept and laws
Corporal punishment in India: Concept and laws

Laws that the usage of Corporal Punishment violates

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution says that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” Corporal punishment violated Article 21 as the dignity of the child is forsaken when a teacher ridicules or beats him in front of his peers. 

Further, it also violates Article 21-A of the Constitution which says that all children between the age of 6 and 14 shall receive free and compulsory education. If any child faces humiliation or violence at school, he might be encouraged to miss school regularly. Children can even drop out of school out of fear of punishment. 

Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Several sections of the IPC may be violated, depending on the severity of the damage caused to the child. Some sections which are violated are below-

  • Section 305 –  Indirectly encouraging a child to commit suicide
  • Section 325 – Causing severe harm to a  person voluntarily
  • Section 352 – A grave provocation, assault, or using criminal force
  • Section 506 – Criminal intimidation of a person
  • Section 354 – Assault or criminal intimidation on a woman which can outrage her modesty

The Right to Education Act, 2009

This Act includes a wide range of issues like compulsory and free education, the quality of education, the ratio between teachers and students, and corporal punishment. The Act prohibits every type of physical and mental abuse of children. It also prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of caste, creed, gender, religion, and financial background

The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000

This Act also deals with a wide range of issues. It sets guidelines on how to deal with or counsel a juvenile who conflicts with the law. Section 23 of the Act mentions the punishment for the cruel treatment of any juvenile by the person in charge of them. Section 26 provides the punishment for the employment of a juvenile in an environment that can be hazardous for them.

The Act also requires that there should be at least 1 child welfare officer in every police station and they should also have the aptitude and all the required training for the job. It also created Special Juvenile Police Units for the same purpose.

Authorities that keep Corporal Punishment in check

There are two main bodies that have been established in India for the sole purpose of cracking down on corporal punishment. The first is the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the second is the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Both of these bodies are tasked with making sure that the children are treated by the Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE). They also examine the rights provided under this Act and also make any recommendations that might be relevant to the Act. They can also launch inquiries into the complaints which claim the violation of the RTE Act

Conclusion

The Government has indeed brought in some laws and statutory bodies which are major in protecting children’s rights. Despite all the governmental efforts, corporal punishment is still a big issue in India. These incidents are extremely frequent and children are sometimes afraid to report them. Even if they do report it to their parents, they chalk it up and say that “it isn’t a big deal” and the teacher was only disciplining the child and there was nothing much they could do about it. It is a big deal and children should be encouraged to report physical and mental abuse and they should also be taken seriously.

References

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