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Accountability and Multi-sectoral Responsibility

Accountability and Multi-sectoral Responsibility

  • The ‘right to remedy’ includes providing (a) equal and effective access to justice; (b) adequate, effective and prompt reparation for the harm suffered; (c) access to relevant information concerning violations and reparation mechanisms. Effective reparation should include restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantee of non-repetition. It is pertinent therefore that the State Governments which have to ensure their State rules provide for better implementation of the RTE, 2009, make suitable legal provisions for ‘effective reparation’ in cases of corporal punishment.
  • All educational institutions including schools and hostels, government as well as private, are custodians of children during the time the children are on their premises. It is thus the responsibility of the management/administration of the school/institution to ensure that children are safe from all forms of violence, including corporal punishment. Therefore, along with the school teacher, warden or the staff of the school/institution that has inflicted violence on the child, the management/administration of the school/institution and their respective education administrators/managements at the higher levels should also be held responsible.
  • In every case of violence against children the respective management/administration should conduct an independent investigation, thus taking responsibility for what goes on in school/institution and not rely simply on enquiries conducted by the school/institution. In any case of child abuse, if the parent withdraws the case, the designated authority should take cognisance of the offence and proceed without harming the child and taking strict action against the accused.
  • As required under Section 32(1) of the RTE Act, State Governments and UT Administrations should designate appropriate ‘local authority’ and notify the same to all concerned for the purpose of redressing the grievances relating to corporal punishment and discrimination. Such ‘local authority’ should be a member of the District Child Protection Society (DCPS) which exists under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) and is headed by the District Collector/Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner. The DCPS should function as the District Level Committee for the purpose of corporal punishment under the Chairpersonship of the District Collector/Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner and the concerned Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM) should be its ex officio Member Secretary/Convener. The District Collector/Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner should receive the complaints of physical punishment, mental harassment and discrimination in schools and get these redressed within a reasonable timeframe. It should also be his responsibility to take suo motu cognisance of grave cases of corporal punishment and to take remedial measures as per law expeditiously.
  • Immediately upon being informed about the occurrence of a case of corporal punishment, it should be the duty of the SDM concerned to immediately ensure that the CPMC undertakes a preliminary factfinding exercise as mentioned in clauses in the previous paragraphs of these Guidelines.
  • In a matter where a child while in school suffers from corporal punishment, resulting in death (homicide or suicide), sexual abuse or serious/grievous mental or physical injury, the SDM concerned should rush to the school as soon as he comes to know about the incident and get the preliminary enquiry organised immediately under his direct supervision. He should ensure that the preliminary enquiry is completed within 7-10 days.
  • In cases of suicide/sexual harassment/hospitalisation resulting due to the action of a teacher/ staff of the school, the accused should be suspended immediately until the investigations by the SDM and police are over.
  • As soon as the preliminary enquiry report of the CPMC is made available to the designated SDM, he/ she should independently assess the report and verify the facts, wherever he/she has doubt. If he/she is convinced that a prima facie case exists then, speedily and without any delay whatsoever prefer a complaint in writing to the local police station at the earliest but not later than one month from the date of the incident, asking them to set the process of law in motion.
  • In all complaints of corporal punishment preferred by the concerned SDM, it should be the duty of the Station House Officer/Police Station in-Charge to immediately register it as First Information Report (FIR) and forward a copy of the same to the concerned SDM, CPMC and the school management and the parents/guardian of the affected child forthwith. He should ensure that all relevant penal provisions are reflected in the FIR, including that of IPC, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and corresponding Rules, the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and corresponding Rules.
  • Thereafter, the case should be entrusted to the Child Welfare Officer (CWO) of the local police station to take it to logical conclusion from the police side. He should immediately proceed in apprehending the accused in cognisable offences and complete his/her investigation within a reasonable timeframe. He should file the charge-sheet in the court of the concerned magistrate with a copy of the same being endorsed to the concerned SDM within a reasonable timeframe but preferably within 3 months from the date of registration of FIR. He/she should ensure that, irrespective of the gravity of the alleged offence(s), no child/teacher/staff/parent witness from the school or the neighbourhood who has sufficient knowledge of the incident are examined in the police station for the purpose of investigation. His interaction with the children in the school or neighbourhood should be in a non-intimidating manner and should be in the presence of their parents and the legal aid member of the concerned CPMC.
  • It should be the responsibility of the legal-aid member of the CPMC from the District Legal Aid Services Authority (nominated by its Member Secretary) to provide free and effective legal aid from beginning to end to a child victim of corporal punishment and his parents connected thereto, wherever parents are not able to engage a lawyer on their own.
  • The SDM and CWO should always take special care to ensure that the head of the school or the school management or teachers’ associations/unions, directly or indirectly, do not attempt to tamper with the witnesses in any manner whatsoever.
  • The concerned CPMC and SDM should ensure that priority is accorded in the entire process to the victim child and her/his safety and both physical and mental health. Hence, if the child needs to be rushed to a hospital they may take care to do so without any delay, or if the services of a professional psychiatrist or psychologist or child counsellor are required, these should be arranged at Government expense in the case of government schools. For all aided or private schools the local educational authority should organise the same at the expense of the private management.
  • Once the enquiry by the SDM is complete, he should recommend through the Collector to the State Government for paying adequate compensation to the child victim or his family in light of the gravity of the case within a definite timeframe. The same may be recovered by the government from the school in due course.
  • The SDM concerned should also send a copy of his enquiry report to the Director (School Education) with his recommendation for disciplinary action against the teacher/principal/non-teaching staff of the school concerned (wherever applicable). In cases, where the report of the SDM reveals that there is a clear case made out against the teacher/head/staff, proper disciplinary action as per law/rules should be initiated by the Director (School Education) and appropriate actions should be taken within a reasonable timeframe.
  • The Director (School Education) should also take into account the record of the school concerned regarding corporal punishment, while renewing its recognition and/or giving NOC to it to open a new branch.
  • For having timely assistance, the District Level Committee on Corporal Punishment under the Chairpersonship of the District Collector/Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner should maintain (in updated manner) a list of required professionals, such as doctors, counsellors, psychologists, criminal lawyers, child rights/women rights activists (sub-district wise). Orientation programmes for such empanelled professionals on the issues relating to corporal punishment should be organised from time to time by the District Level Committee. The School Education Department should make a provision in its budget and place the same at the disposal of the District Magistrate for the purpose of paying honorarium to them on a case-to-case basis, as well as for meeting the training/orientation/sensitisation/ publicity/public awareness programme expenses.
  • The SDMs should keep the District Collectors/Magistrates (as the Chairperson of the District Level Committee on Corporal Punishment) informed about the developments in the cases of corporal punishment within their jurisdiction once in 3 months in the format that should be prescribed by the Directorate of School Education or the District Magistrate.
  • The District Collectors/Magistrates should periodically, but at least once in 3 months, hold the meeting of the District Level Committee on corporal punishment to assess the situation of corporal punishment in the District so as to take remedial measures.
  • It should be made the responsibility of the Director (School Education) of the State Governments/ UT Administrations as the State Level Nodal Officer to ensure that the above guidelines are widely known to all concerned and implemented in letter and spirit.
  • All the School Education Boards, including ICSE, CBSE and State Boards should take suo motu cognisance of the incidents of corporal punishment in the schools affiliated to them and to get the same inquired into within a reasonable timeframe. The School Boards should maintain a multi-disciplinary panel of professionals (State-wise) for the purpose of independent enquiry. They should constitute a Grievance Redressal Cell to receive complaints of corporal punishment and to take appropriate actions in such matters expeditiously. These Cells should also work out strategies for preventing such incidents in schools affiliated to them. One such strategy should be to ask the affiliated schools to organise sensitisation/ orientation programmes for teachers on corporal punishment issues from time to time. These Cells should also suitably advise the said Boards in addressing the issue from a larger perspective.
  • The School Boards should issue Guidelines to the schools affiliated to them, stipulating that ‘corporal punishment-free environment’ would be one of the conditions for granting affiliation/recognition/NOC to them. Similarly, they should also stipulate that ‘practice of physical punishment/mental harassment’ would be one of the grounds for withdrawal of affiliation/recognition/NOC granted to them.
  • The School Boards should also issue instructions immediately to all schools affiliated to them to abide by the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 as well as the Rules and Guidelines framed/issued/notified thereunder. They should have a test check in this regard once in a year. The Department of School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) should get the compliance level in this regard evaluated through NUEPA once in a year and the findings should be shared with NCPCR.

Source: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights



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