INDIA: Child rights body to probe pupil's death

[KOLKATA, 5 June 2010] - India's National Commission for the Protection of Children's Rights has launched an enquiry into the suicide of a school boy in February following allegations that corporal punishment by the school's principal and teachers pushed him over the edge.

The boy's father, Ajay Rawla, moved the Commission with evidence including a voice recording in which principal Sunirmal Chakravarthi admitted to caning Rawla's son days before his death. He also revealed that classmates had posted accusations of physical punishment by teachers at La Martiniere for Boys school on social networking sites.

"The Commission believes there is merit in the case and will conduct an enquiry into the matter on Tuesday and Wednesday. The evidence presented before the Commission was supported by the school's actions against its board members when they protested against corporal punishment," Rawla said.

Two board members, Neil O'Brien and K S David, had previously criticised the school administrators for sweeping the issue of corporal punishment under the carpet.

"We had attempted to instil a degree of good governance and integrity in the functioning of the schools and the board but failed as their stand was not compatible with that of the management," they said.

When Rawla looked into corporal punishment at the school, he found that social networking site Facebook was abuzz with posts on how students at La Martiniere for Boys were suffering at the hand of Chakravarthi and other teachers. One of the students who had explained in detail how corporal punishment was meted out at the school was allegedly expelled.

"Worse, when I confronted the principal, he brazenly admitted to caning by him and fellow teachers. Clearly, in the principal's book, it is acceptable to hit and physically abuse students," Rawla said.

Corporal punishment in schools was prohibited by Calcutta high court on February 6, 2004. During a hearing filed by Tapas Kumar Bhanja, Chief Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur and Justice Asim Banerjee decreed that if schools carried out corporal punishment, they would face legal action.

Further information

pdf: Times of India


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