SC gives freshers a weapon against ragging: FIR & law

Ragging should now be a criminal offence, the Supreme Court held today, much like crimes against women like cruelty or dowry-related offences.

"A new section should be added to the IPC, making ragging a punishable offence on the analogy of Section 498 A dealing with cruelty towards women," said a bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat.

Not just ragging but also abetment to ragging, criminal conspiracy to rag, causing injury, wrongful confinement, use of force, assault, as well as sexual offences would have to be included in the "comprehensive definition" of ragging under the proposed new section of the IPC, the court said.

It issued a slew of directions based on the recommendations of a committee headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan. The committee had said that "ragging is an offence with a multiplicity of ingredients, each of which constitutes an offence punishable under existing provisions of the IPC." And that it should attract an "exemplary (and) justifiably harsh" punishment.

Seeking another change in the law that the burden of proof should lie on the accused rather than the victim in ragging cases, the court empowered victims or their families to get a FIR registered.

"Every single incident of ragging, where the victim or his parent/guardian or the head of the institution is not satisfied with the institutional arrangement for action a FIR must be filed compulsorily by the institutional authority with the local police authorities." Students or their guardians could also directly approach the cops for registration of an FIR, the court said.

The court also put the onus on educational institutions to initiate legal action by filing a criminal case against the perpetrators of ragging if the victim or the parents failed to do so.

The bench, also comprising Justice S H Kapadia, ordered that criminal cases involving ragging be tried on a fast-track basis to ensure there are no delays keeping in mind the academic interests of the students. For which, an amendment in the Criminal Procedure Code is called for, it said.

... contd.

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