Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable. Corporal punishment in school may be still legal in some parts of the world but has been outlawed in other places including India.
Many parents are aware that their children are beaten and they wrongly feel that a teacher has the right to punish. Parents should not hesitate to complain because now the teachers have no plea to save themselves and they say that they acted in good faith and so, they should be given protection from punishment. With the change in times the old 18th century proverb spare the rod and spoil the child holds no relevance in today's life. Strong laws are enforced to effectively implement the policy of putting the ban on beating of students in the school, which provide for both criminal and well as civil liability for controvening the relevant provisions.
Section 23 of the Justice Juvenile Act 2000 provide as under:
"23. Punishment for cruelty to juvenile or child.- Whoever, having the actual charge of, or control over, a juvenile or the child, assaults, abandons, exposes or wilfully neglects the juvenile or causes or procures him to be assaulted, abandoned, exposed or neglected in a manner likely to cause such juvenile or the child unnecessary mental or physical suffering shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or fine, or with both."
Section 23 of the Justice Juvenile Act 2000 prescribes punishment for teachers who subject the students in their care to considerable emotional and physical abuse. This section has no exceptions to exempt parents or teachers. Though it is intended to punish cruelty by those in authority, it equally applies to parents and teachers also.
Let’s not forget, the basic function of schools is to nurture tender minds into a complete personality. After all, the children in school are young and they have tender minds. By beating and punishing children, no one can groom them properly into becoming responsible citizens. Such students will grow more stubborn and rebellious, or turn into a criminal, taking law into his own hands as his legal right.
Another step taken by the Government is by enforcing Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 which came into force in 2010 which embodies complete ban on corporal punishment. According to Sub-section 1 of section 17 of the Act, physical punishment or mental harassment of a child is prohibited. Vide Sub-section 2 of Section 17, whosoever contravenes the provisions of sub-section 1 of section 17 shall be liable to disciplinary action under the relevant service rules.
In 2001, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court while dealing with a PIL filed by Parents Forum and Meaningful Education, held that corporal punishment was not in keeping with a child’s dignity. The judges ruled that subjecting a child to physical violence in the name of discipline or education was cruelty and violated the child’s Right to Life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. In 2000, Supreme Court has clearly said: "children are not subjected to corporal punishment in schools and that they receive education in an environment of freedom and dignity, free from fear."
In Ganesh Chandra Shaha v. Jinraj Somani, and State v. H.A. Khandkar, it was held that teacher who caned the students and inflicted fist blows, causing bodily injury and loss of tooth, would be criminally liable and would not be benefited for having acted in good faith for the benefit of the victim. If teacher exceeds the authority and inflicts unreasonable punishment he would lose the benefit of Section 88 of IPC which protects acts done in good faith.
As the prevention is better than punishment, schools should assess prospective teachers for their mental stability, besides their academic skills. they should also be coached time to time on managing children, to make them more sensitive and sensible.