Wednesday, May 23, 2007

[Tribune] Call it crime: Court’s prescription against ragging

THE Supreme Court’s directive to educational institutions to eliminate the archaic practice of ragging has once again brought this menace into sharp focus. The court does not want any mercy to be shown to those indulging in this heinous activity. On the other hand, it wants the educational institution concerned to take the responsibility of filing an FIR if the parents or guardians of a victim are not satisfied with the punishment given by the institution or if the sufferer is unable to file an FIR on his own. No doubt, preventing ragging is the collective responsibility of the authorities at all levels.

What the court has observed is based on the R.K. Raghavan Committee’s recommendations. The panel, headed by a former CBI Director, was appointed by the Centre under instructions from the apex court, which has approved of much of what the committee has suggested for banishing this ugly practice. Those among the student community who favour the continuance of ragging describe it as mere “fun”, which is believed to help interaction among the seniors and juniors. They must be bluntly told that any activity that can destroy a student’s career and even threaten his life and liberty cannot be accepted as “fun”. Ragging was reportedly the cause of at least 25 suicide cases during the past seven years. The number of those emotionally traumatised by the ragging can never be quantified.

The apex court has directed the educational institutions to appoint an anti-ragging committee or squad to keep an eye on the goings-on in the hostels so that no junior student is harassed by his seniors on any pretext. This can help only if the members of the panel include people who are not employees of the institution. According to a survey by the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), the authorities of educational institutions “prefer to deny ragging incident for face-saving at the cost of the freshers’ trauma”. For them the image of their institution is more important than the life or career of a student. This needs to be addressed to make the anti-ragging prescription effective.

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