This article on ‘Laws against Corporal Punishments in Schools: All you need to know’ was written by Mahek Mishra an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Corporal punishment is a kind of physical punishment that has been proven to have a negative effect on children’s physical and emotional development as in recent years, there has been an increasing tendency to abolish physical punishment in schools. Corporal punishment is the use of physical force to discipline a child. It can take several forms, such as striking, slapping, spanking, shaking, pulling hair, and pinching. Many countries have already banned physical punishment in schools, and more are anticipated to do so in future.
History of Corporal Punishments in Schools
For generations, corporal punishments in Schools have been in use. Physical punishment was once thought to be an essential tool for disciplining children and teaching them obedience. It was also thought to be a tactic for keeping children safe by teaching them to respect authority and avoid doing things that would result in punishment.
However, it became obvious over time that physical punishment was ineffective as a method of child control. In fact, it was discovered to be detrimental to children’s physical and emotional development. As a result, several countries moved to prohibit physical punishment in schools.
Causes of Corporal Punishment
There are several reasons why children should not be subjected to corporal punishment. For instance, it can result in physical harm. Children who have been battered or punished are more likely to get bruises, wounds, and even fractured bones. Second, physical punishment can cause emotional distress. Physical punishment causes anxiety, despair, and low self-esteem in children. Finally, corporal punishment might result in behavioural issues. Physical punishment makes children more likely to be angry, disobedient, and disruptive.
Laws prohibiting corporal punishments in schools
There are several statutes that ban corporal punishments in schools.
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, is the most significant statute in India.
Section 17 of the RTE Act forbids “physical punishment” and “mental harassment” of children in schools. This means that teachers are not authorized to punch, slap, or otherwise physically discipline kids. They are also not authorized to embarrass, demean, or threaten kids.
Section 17(2) of the RTE Act allows for disciplinary action against instructors who violate the legislation. If a teacher is proven to have used physical punishment, they might be suspended, fired, or even imprisoned.
In addition to the RTE Act, there are a number of additional statutes that ban physical punishment in schools. These include:
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act of 2012. This legislation forbids all sorts of sexual abuse against children, including physical punishment.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015. This statute provides for the protection and care of children who have broken a law. It also outlaws physical punishment in any institution that cares for or protects children.
- The Indian Penal Code (IPC). This provides legislation for hurting a child is a crime that can make a person liable for voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt under Sections 323 or 325 of the IPC; assault or criminal force under Section 352 IPC; criminal intimidation under Section 506 IPC; and, if the child is humiliated to the point of suicide, then under Section 305 of the Indian Penal Code for child abetment of suicide.
Relevant Constitutional Provisions
Violence against children is a violation of Article 21’s right to live with dignity. Furthermore, corporal punishment discourages children from attending school and adds to the high dropout rate. This violates the right to education as a fundamental right provided by Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution.
- Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which safeguards the right to life and dignity, includes the right to education for children below the age of 14. Corporal punishment is abusive and undermines a child’s independence and dignity. It also intrudes on access to a child’s education since youngsters who dread corporal punishment are more likely to abandon school or drop out entirely. As a result, corporal punishment violates the right to live with dignity.
- According to Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution, the state is to provide free and compulsory education to children below the age of fourteen years. This right got incorporated as a fundamental right by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.
- Article 39(e) of the Indian Constitution mandates the state to strive gradually to guarantee that children’s tender age is not abused.
- Article 39 (f) of the Indian Constitution directs the state to work gradually to felicitate the development of the children in a healthy manner so that the dignity and freedom against ill-treatment of the children are protected.
Case Laws Concerning Corporal Punishment
Several significant judgements have contributed to the legal prohibition on physical punishment in schools. Some of the important cases include:
➢ The Ingraham v. Wright (1977) is one of the most significant. The Supreme Court decided in this case that corporal punishment does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s restriction on cruel and unusual punishment. The court did, however, rule that corporal punishment must be proportionate and not excessive.
➢ Parents Forum for Meaningful Education v. Union of India and Others (2000): In this case, the Supreme Court of India ruled that physical punishment is a breach of children’s basic rights. The Court ordered that children shall not be exposed to physical punishment or mental abuse in any educational institution.
➢ Kishor Guleria v. The Director of Education, Delhi (2004): In this case, a pupil was dismissed from school for protesting about corporal punishment. The Court concluded that the expulsion was unlawful, and that the student had the right to protest corporal punishment without fear of retaliation.
➢ The Gujarat High Court found in November 2008 that corporal treatment of children is not permitted by law in Hansmukhbhai Golakdas Shah vs. State of Gujarat, (2009) case.
➢ Another significant case is Rakesh Kumar v. Union of India (2009), decided by the Delhi High Court. In this case, the High Court held that corporal punishment violates children’s basic rights. According to the Court, physical punishment is “degrading and inhuman” and “has no place in a civilized society.”
➢ Ambika S. v. State of Haryana (2011), In this instance, a teacher was found guilty of assault after hitting a student. The court upheld the conviction, emphasizing that physical punishment is a severe crime with long-term effects on children.
➢ S. Jai Singh v. State Rep.By (2021), In this case, a teacher was convicted of causing great bodily harm to a student by striking him hard with a cricket bat. The court condemned the instructor to ten years in jail, emphasizing that physical punishment has grave repercussions.
There is a lack of understanding regarding the negative impacts of physical punishment, as well as a lack of implementation of laws prohibiting it. Many teachers and parents still feel that physical punishment is an effective approach to discipline children; therefore, I suggest that we can build a more positive and caring learning environment for all children if we continue to raise awareness and enforce the laws.
People in our society continue to assume that to learn something right, they must be punished otherwise they will end up doing something wrong unnecessarily. The use of physical punishment in schools and families is still prevalent. Developing countries have established agendas to promote awareness about corporal punishments in schools and its effects on children’s mental and physical health.
It is impossible to argue that the child should not be reprimanded or beaten, but it is critical to remember that punishments are all about teaching children the value of accountability. The Indian government has prohibited the use of physical punishment on children throughout the country since it amounts to child abuse and therefore it must be prohibited.
- M Chauhan, “Corporal Punishment And Child Rights In India”, Legal Services India, available at: https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-8891-corporal-punishment-and-child-rights-in-india.html
- Nimisha Dublish, “Laws against corporal punishment”, iPleaders Blog, 20 October 2022, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/laws-against-corporal-punishment/
- Legal Upanishad, “Corporal Punishment in India: Concept and Laws”, Legal Upanishad, available at: https://legalupanishad.com/corporal-punishment-in-india/
- Vageshwari Deswal, “Corporal punishment against children and the law”, Times of India, 22 February 2019, available at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/legally-speaking/corporal-punishment-against-children-and-the-law/