The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India defines menace of ragging as “any disorderly conduct, whether by words spoken or written or by an act which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness any student, indulging in rowdy or indisciplined activities which cause or are likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment to adversely affect the psyche of a fresher or a junior student.”
According to the law, “Ragging can send you to jail for 10 years. In India, ragging is banned on all campuses. Such acts are punishable by fines of up to Rs. 50,000, jail terms ranging from six months to 10 years, and awarding of certificates that “the student had indulged in ragging” which can adversely affect his subsequent admission and career prospects.”
The problem of ragging is a major issue in many colleges across the country, despite these regulations. The premier institutions of our country, the IITs, NITs, and the NLUs have had major ragging incidents. It’s an age-old practice that has been continuing over the decades.
In 1998, Vishwa Jagriti Mission, an NGO filed a Civil Writ petition against ragging in India to the Supreme Court of India against Govt. of India, Ministry of Education, UGC, IIT, and YMCA engineering college under Article 32 pleading it to be a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. SC observed and raised its concern over the alarming number of incidents of ragging in colleges where incidents have even crossed the limits of decency, morality, and humanity. That was the beginning of the revolution.
Tamil Nadu became the first state to introduce legislation against Ragging in 1997.
Following are the substantive laws in India prohibiting menace of ragging:
- The Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1996 (applicable in the state of Tamil Nadu)
- Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1997.
- The Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998.
- Assam prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998.
- The Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999.
- The West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in educational Institutes Act, 2000.
Forms of ragging
Some of the existing forms of menace of ragging observed in the colleges are as follows:
1. Verbal torture: Verbal torture involves indulging in loose talks. The fresher may be asked to sing the lyrics of any vulgar song or use abusive language while talking to the seniors.
2. Dress code ragging: The fresher men are asked to dress in a specific dress code, a particularly sleazy one at that and the seniors have a blast teasing them and hitting on them.
3. Formal Introduction: This Ragging involves asking the fresher men to introduce themselves in different styles, often in a comic manner.
4. Sexual Abuse: This is the severest form of ragging that takes place in colleges. The seniors are mainly interested in details such as the anatomical description of one’s body parts, his or her sexual interests, and fantasies, etc. In many cases, the fresher men are also asked to strip and parade before the seniors.
5. Role-playing: The fresher men may be asked to enact scenes from a particular movie or mimic a particular film character. In some cases, the seniors may also ask the fresher men to do awkward things, often with the opposite gender.
6. Hostel Ragging: Outstation students who stay in the hostel are the most vulnerable to ragging. They may be asked to do all odd jobs from cleaning the room of seniors to washing their clothes, from fetching them water/milk/cigarettes to completing their assignments.
7. Drug/Alcohol Abuse: This can be the worst form of ragging wherein the fresher men are forced to try drugs/alcohol by their seniors thereby driving them into addiction etc.
A complaint in name of ragging in India can be lodged by a student under the following provisions of the IPC:
Section 294 – Obscene acts and songs – Anyone who does any obscene act in any public place or utters such words shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 months.
Section 323 – Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt – If the person causing injury was aware of the fact that he is likely to cause hurt, shall be convicted under this section. Correspondence between the result and the intention or the knowledge of the accused shall be taken into account.
Section 324 – Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means – It is a cognizable offence which is non-bailable. If the intention of the accused is established then he shall be imprisoned for up to 3 years.
Section 325 – Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous injury – This section is similar to the previous one, non-bailable with imprisonment up to 7 years.
Section 326 – Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapon – If any person is hurt voluntarily using any instrument which might result in either serious injury or death, then the accused shall be punished for up to 10 years of imprisonment depending upon the seriousness of the damage caused.
Section 339 – Wrongful Restraint – An act to obstruct the way of juniors to cause trouble or prevent them from proceeding towards any direction in which he/she has a right to proceed, shall be an act of offence under Anti-ragging rules.
Section 341 – Punishment for Wrongful Restraint – Anyone who is found doing such wrongful restrainment, shall be punished for up to 1month imprisonment or with a fine of Rs. 500.
Section 340 – Wrongful Confinement – An act of confining juniors in a room or classroom to trouble them or harass them, shall be considered as an act of offence.
Section 342 – Punishment for Wrongful Confinement – Anyone who is found doing such wrongful restrainment, shall be punished for up to 1year imprisonment or with a fine of Rs. 1000 or both.
Section 506 – Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder – whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to two years, or with fine, or with both if need be.
The institution shall punish a student found guilty of ragging in an educational institution in India after following the procedure and in the manner prescribed here as under:
- The Anti-Ragging Committee of the institution shall take an appropriate decision, regarding punishment or otherwise, depending on the facts of each incident of ragging in college and the nature and gravity of the incident of ragging in the college, established in the recommendations of the Anti-Ragging Squad.
- The Anti-Ragging Committee may, depending on the nature and gravity of the guilt established by the Anti-Ragging Squad, award, to those found guilty of ragging in an educational institution in India, one or more of the following punishments, namely:
- Suspension from attending classes and academic privileges;
- Withholding/ withdrawing scholarship/ fellowship and other benefits;
- Debarring from appearing in any test/ examination or other evaluation processes;
- Withholding results;
- Debarring from representing the institution in any regional, national or international meet, tournament, youth festival, etc.;
- Suspension/ expulsion from the hostel;
- Cancellation of admission;
- Rustication from the institution for period ranging from one to four semesters;
- Expulsion from the institution and consequent debarring from admission to any other institution for a specified period.
In case, you find yourself in any such situation where you feel you are being ragged by seniors or by an individual, feel free to reach out on UGC’s 24X7 toll-free number 1800 180 5522 or drop them an email at [email protected]. UGC has also developed the Anti Ragging Mobile Application for filing the complaint on ragging, filing the affidavit, and for calling the Toll-Free Anti Ragging Helpline Number and the same may be downloaded from Google Play Store. UGC has also developed the Anti Ragging website i.e. www.antiragging.in.
The portal contains records of registered complaints received and the status of the action taken thereon. Secretary, UGC sends the circular twice a year regarding strict compliance of UGC Regulations on curbing the menace of ragging in higher educational institutions. Further details may please be seen at UGC website: www.ugc.ac.in.
You will have to remember that you are safe, you have the law at your disposal and so is UGC. You will have to find strength from inside and report any abuse that you might have faced. Together, we can fight this menace!