Anti-ragging bill passed in Himachal assembly

SHIMLA - A legislation to curb ragging in educational institutions was passed by the Himachal Pradesh assembly Monday despite apprehensions by the opposition Congress about certain clauses.

The Himachal Pradesh Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Ragging) Act, 2009, makes ragging a cognisable and non-bailable offence.

Students caught ragging will not only be expelled and be ineligible for admission to any other institution for three years, but may also be jailed and fined Rs.50,000.

Expressing apprehension about certain clauses in the bill, Congress legislators Kaul Singh Thakur, Sukhvinder Singh and Rajesh Dharmani demanded that the student’s expulsion for ragging should be reduced to one year instead of three.

“Expelling the student from the institution for indulging in ragging is like taking away his right to education, which is a fundamental right of a student. The act should be reformative not punitive. It should be referred to a select committee for review,” Kaul Singh said.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said: “The government has taken a lot reformatory steps (after the death of Aman Kachru of the Rajendra Prasad Medical College at Tanda town due to ragging) like setting up of Parent-Teacher Associations in educational institutions and interactions between senior and junior students. The act is the right step to check the menace.”

He said if the opposition was still apprehensive about certain clauses, these could be later amended. The assembly passed the bill with a voice vote.

The act says that whenever a complaint of ragging is made in writing, the head of the educational institution will be required to conduct an inquiry within 24 hours.

The institution heads have been made fully accountable for preventing ragging.

Their failure to do so or act on complaints will amount to culpable negligence and attract provisions of the law.

Kachru, 19, died March 8, a few hours after being allegedly ragged by four final-year students of the college.

The four students - Ajay Verma, Naveen Verma, Abhinav Verma and Mukul Sharma - accused of assaulting Kachru were arrested. They are facing murder charges under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.


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