The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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HC orders ragging bar reminder

Calcutta, Sept. 24: The high court today asked the state chief secretary to print 2,000 copies of the anti-ragging law, along with the provisions of punishment mentioned in it, and send them to educational institutions across the state.

The division bench of acting Chief Justice A.N. Roy and Justice A.K. Mitra also asked the chief secretary to submit a compliance report after the puja vacation.

Earlier, the court had issued a directive asking the government to send a notification to the heads of institutions making them aware of the West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institution Act, 2000, and mentioning the consequences of ragging for offenders.

The order was allegedly not carried out and many educational institutions are said to be in the dark about the law.

According to the law, a student found guilty of ragging can be sent to jail for five years and fined up to Rs 50,000.

Today's order followed a public interest litigation filed by advocate Tapas Bhanja. He alleged that even after the order by the division bench of former Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice A.K. Banerjee on December 5, 2003, many schools and colleges were not informed about the law or the punishment for violating it.

In his petition, Bhanja said over the past year at least 20 students were ragged brutally by their seniors. 'Unable to bear the torture, three students committed suicide.

'A student of a Bankura college lost an eye. None of the guilty students was prosecuted, either by the institutional heads or police.'

Bhanja also said that he visited many of the institutions. 'In most, the authorities had not received any notice from the government in this regard (the anti-ragging law).'

Government pleader Rabilal Moitra told the court that the authorities had tried their best to prevent ragging. 'But some students do not bother to obey government orders.'

The law to prevent ragging was framed following a 1998 directive from a division bench of then Justice Mukul Gopal Mukherjee. The bill was passed by the Assembly in 2000.

In four years after that the government did little to enforce the law, Bhanja said.

Higher education department sources said ragging may not have stopped but has gone down since the legislation. In the last three years, at least a dozen students from engineering colleges ' private and government ' have been expelled, suspended or fined for ragging. Engineering students now give an undertaking during admission that they will not indulge in it.

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