Corporal Punishment : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-2: Welfare for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.

Key Phrases: Juvenile Justice Act, Corporal punishment, Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, Mental harassment, Indian Penal Code, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Article 21A, Article 24, Article 39 (e), Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cell.


  • Three private school teachers in Pune have been booked under the Juvenile Justice Act over allegedly thrashing three Class 10 students, and threatening to grade them poorly in internal assessments. A look at the legal provisions that bar corporal punishment, and who has the responsibility to protect children against abuse.

What is corporal punishment?

  • Corporal punishment is the most widespread form of violence against children.
  • It is any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort.
  • It is a violation of children's rights to respect for human dignity and physical integrity.
  • There is no statutory definition of ‘corporal punishment’ targeting children in the India, but the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 prohibits ‘physical punishment’ and ‘mental harassment’ under Section 17(1) and makes it a punishable offence under Section 17(2).
  • Corporal Punishment can be broadly classified into two types, the first one being Physical and the second one being Mental.
  • Physical punishment:
    • According to the NCPCR, physical punishment is understood as any action that causes pain, hurt/injury and discomfort to a child.
    • It includes making children assume an uncomfortable position (standing on bench, standing against the wall in a chair-like position, standing with school bag on head, holding ears through legs, kneeling, forced ingestion of anything, detention in the classroom, library, toilet or any closed space in the school.
  • Mental harassment:
    • It is understood as any non-physical treatment that is detrimental to the academic and psychological well-being of a child
    • It includes sarcasm, calling names and scolding using humiliating adjectives, intimidation, using derogatory remarks for the child, ridiculing or belittling a child, shaming the child and more.

What are provisions under the law against such punishment?

  • Right to Education Act, 2009:
    • Section 17 of the RTE Act, 2009, imposes an absolute bar on corporal punishment.
    • It prescribes disciplinary action to be taken against the guilty person in accordance with the service rules applicable to such person.
    • Sections 8 and 9 of the RTE Act of 2009 place a duty on the appropriate Government and the local authority to “ensure that the child belonging to weaker section and the child belonging to the disadvantaged group are not discriminated against and prevented from pursuing and completing elementary education on any grounds”
  • Juvenile Justice Act:
    • According to Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, any person who is in control of a juvenile and who abandons, assaults, exposes or wilfully neglects the juvenile or procures him to be abandoned, assaulted, exposed or neglected which in turn causes mental or physical pain to him/her shall be punished with imprisonment up to six months, or fine, or with both.
    • Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act prescribes punishment for cruelty to children.
  • Indian Penal Code
    • There are various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, which govern the perpetrators of Corporal Punishment based on the gravity of the harm inflicted. It includes
    • Section 305 pertaining to abetment of suicide committed by a child
    • Section 323 pertaining to voluntarily causing hurt
    • Section 325 which is about voluntarily causing grievous hurt
  • Bodies established to curb Corporal Punishment
    • The two major statutory bodies, which are at the helm of eradication of Corporal Punishment are
      • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
      • State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights.
    • These bodies have been tasked with ensuring that the children are being treated in consonance with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

Constitutional provisions related to the protection of children in India

  • Article 21 A: Provision for compulsory education in the age group of 6-14.
  • Article 24: It prohibits child labor in hazardous work until the age of 14.
  • Article 39 (e): It is the duty of the state to ensure that children of tender age are not abused due to economic disparity.
  • Article 45: It is the duty of the state to provide for the care of children in the age group of 0-6.
  • Article 51A(k) : The fundamental duty of parents is to ensure that their child receives education for the age group of 6 to 14.

Outcomes of Corporal Punishment:

  • A research found that physical punishment was not associated with any positive outcomes for children and increased the risk of children experiencing severe violence or neglect.
  • Negative outcomes associated with physical punishment, such as behavioural problems, occurred irrespective of the child's sex, race, or ethnicity and regardless of the overall teaching styles of the caregivers.
  • The magnitude of negative outcomes for children increased with the frequency of physical punishment.
  • The physical punishment does not improve children's behaviour and instead makes it worse.

Some reasons behind Corporal Punishment:

  • Teachers use physical punishment (or mental harassment) because of a general lack of awareness or interest to explore options other than violence and abuse.
  • Teachers commit violence against children when swayed by emotion. Say, when they feel frustrated at being unable to manage the classroom.
  • Other factors such as low pay scales, a skewed student-teacher ratio and poorly resourced schools contribute to emotional build-ups.
  • Teachers when lose patience lash out at the students and adopt corporal punishment patterns.

What do NCPCR guidelines say about eliminating corporal punishment?

  • Under NCPCR guidelines, every school is required to develop a mechanism and frame clear-cut protocols to address the grievances of students.
  • Drop boxes are to be placed where the aggrieved person may drop his complaint and anonymity is to be maintained to protect privacy.
  • Every school has to constitute a ‘Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cell’ consisting of two teachers, two parents, one doctor, one lawyer (nominated by DLSA), counsellor, an independent child rights activist of that area and two senior students from that school.
  • This CPMC shall look into complaints of corporal punishments.

Concern Shown By Judiciary

  • S. Jai Singh and Ors. vs State and Anr, 2018
    • This case relates to a student who died after he was made to do a "duckwalk" (a form of Corporal punishment) for arriving late to school.
    • Justice Venkatesh said that despite legislation against such forms of punishment, they are still practiced in educational institutions across the nation.
    • He said, "Even animals are protected against cruelty… Our children surely cannot be worse off than animals.”
    • The attitude of the Judiciary is also ambivalent towards the deep-rooted problem of Corporal punishment.

Way Forward

  • The Government of India has banned the practice of Corporal punishment throughout the country. However, the implementation of law and UN Convention on Child Rights treaties are not implemented in the school and student level.
  • Practice of Corporal punishment and classroom violence continues to exist. Many developing countries have adopted agenda to promote the people's age-old mentality that Corporal punishments could only curb the bad social behaviour or action. India also had to protect child rights and promote awareness campaigns against Corporal punishment.

Sources: Indian Express

Mains Question:

Q. What is Corporal punishment? Discuss the provisions under the various laws against Corporal punishment in India. [250 Words].