A footnote to Aman tragedy: anti-ragging Bill pending since 2005

The alleged ragging death of 19-year-old Aman Kachroo in a Himachal medical college has once again highlighted the limits of deterrence.....

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Published: March 11, 2009 2:30 am

The alleged ragging death of 19-year-old Aman Kachroo in a Himachal medical college has once again highlighted the limits of deterrence,either through university rules or even court guidelines. In fact,the Union Human Resource Development Ministry has never shown eagerness to come up with a law at the national level.

The Home Ministry too didn’t act on a suggestion of the Supreme Court which,in May 2007,wanted a section to be added to the Indian Penal Code (IPC),making ragging a punishable offence on the lines of Section 498-A which deals with cruelty towards women.

Calling ragging a violation of human rights,a bench of the apex court had said that apart from ragging,abetment to ragging,criminal conspiracy to rag,causing injury,wrongful confinement,use of force,assault as well as sexual offences should also be included in such a section of the IPC. It also wanted the burden of proof in ragging cases to lie on the accused — not the victim.

Lawmakers too share the blame since Parliament has been sitting on a Private Member’s Bill to prevent ragging in colleges and other educational institutions. The Prevention of Ragging in Colleges and Institutions Bill,introduced in 2005 by Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Santosh Bagrodia,current Union Minister of State for Coal,was aimed to empower the Central government to ban ragging in educational institutions and make it punishable with rigorous imprisonment for three years and fine of Rs 25,000.

Not only this,it would also have empowered the government or its agencies such as the University Grants Commission (UGC) to penalise institutes that failed to take steps to curb ragging. One of the most important clauses of the Bill was that it wanted to empower Central and state governments to set up task forces to monitor the implementation of the anti-ragging law and take action against any violation.

Sources in the Home Ministry said that “preliminary discussions” were held on an anti-ragging law after the apex court ruling but “nothing concrete” followed as senior Ministry officials felt that the Supreme Court guidelines were “adequate in dealing with the problem.” The issue was also discussed with state governments to elicit views and to push them to bring about their own anti-ragging laws. Other than a few states like Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu,Kerala and West Bengal,most don’t have anti-ragging laws.

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