Tuesday, October 09, 2007

[HT] ‘Legal teeth for ragging panel’

With about 53 cases of ragging reported from different parts of the country this year, the government is considering giving legal backing to recommendations of the Raghavan Committee report to check the menace.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has mooted a proposal to make changes in the UGC Act to provide for action against institutions not following the Raghavan Committee’s recommendations.

The committee had recommended to the Supreme Court earlier this year that an FIR should be registered against students accused of ragging and the institutions should set up a mechanism to prevent ragging in campuses and hostels.

In absence of any legal backing, the UGC found that it cannot force institutions to implement its recommendations.

As in the case of the recent ragging in St. Stephens College, the UGC can only seek a report and advise the institution to follow the recommendations. “We cannot even withhold the financial grant,” a UGC official commented, when asked about the commission’s powers to check ragging.

Now, the UGC is looking at providing legal backing to the Raghavan Committee recommendations in the UGC Act to make them effective. “We are considering a proposal in this regard,” said UGC member-secretary Tilak Raj Khem. Once finalised, it would be forwarded to the HRD ministry for final approval, he added.

Before a legislation on ragging, penal provisions against those running fake universities could come into force. The UGC has already submitted a proposal to the HRD ministry to enhance the fine for setting up a fake university and incorporate a provision for a jail-term. Under the present UGC Act, only a fine of Rs 1,000 can be imposed.

“A jail-term would be a deterrence to set up a university not approved by the UGC,” Khem said.

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