Ragging issue – The Core IAS

Ragging issue


  • An 18-year-old undergraduate student died after falling from the second floor of his hostel in the Jadavpur University campus in Kolkata. The family alleged that he was being ragged on campus.

Supreme Court on ragging

  • The Supreme Court in a 2001 case had dealt with ragging, which it termed the “menace pervading the educational institutions of the country.” Vishwa Jagriti Mission has filed a public interest litigation against the central government.
  • The Court said, “broadly speaking” ragging is defined 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 other student, indulging in rowdy or indisciplined activities which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof in a fresher or a junior student or asking the students to do any act or perform something which such student will not do in the ordinary course and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of a fresher or a junior student. The cause of indulging in ragging is deriving sadistic pleasure or showing off power, authority or superiority by the seniors over their juniors or freshers.” 

  • The Court also issued key guidelines on anti-ragging. These included setting up proctoral committees to prevent ragging and internally address complaints against ragging.
  • “Ragging if it becomes unmanageable or amounts to a cognizable offence the same may be reported to the police,” the Court had said.
  • In 2009, the Supreme Court in another case again dealt with the ragging issue in which it appointed a committee headed by former CBI Director RK Raghavan. The recommendations of the committee were subsequently formalised by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

UGC guidelines

  • In 2009, the UGC issued detailed guidelines for universities on anti-ragging. The guidelines include nine explanations of what could constitute ragging. “The Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions,” include as ragging: teasing, treating or handling a fellow student with rudeness; causing physical or psychological harm; causing or generating a sense of shame; academic activity of any other student or a fresher; exploiting a fresher or any other student for completing academic tasks assigned to an individual or a group of students; financial extortion or forceful expenditure; homosexual assaults, stripping, forcing obscene and lewd acts, gestures, causing bodily harm.
  • At an institutional level, the UGC requires universities to take measures for prevention of ragging including declaring its intent publicly to prevent ragging and requiring students to sign an undertaking that they will not engage in ragging activities.
  • “The institution shall set up appropriate committees, including the course-incharge, student advisor, Wardens and some senior students as its members, to actively monitor, promote and regulate healthy interaction between the freshers, junior students and senior students,” the Rules state.
  • If found guilty by the anti-ragging committee, the UGC guidelines require any member of the committee to “proceed to file a First Information Report (FIR), within twenty four hours of receipt of such information or recommendation, with the police and local authorities, under the appropriate penal provisions.”

The offence

  • While ragging is not a specific offence, it could be penalised under several other provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
  • For example, the offence of wrongful restraint is criminalised under Section 339 of the IPC which is punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both. Wrongful restraint is an offence when a person is prevented from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed.
  • Section 340 criminalises wrongful confinement which is defined as wrongfully restraining any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceedings beyond certain circumscribing limits. This is punishable with a jail term that can be extended upto a year or a fine of upto one thousand rupees, or with both. 
  • Several states have special laws for anti-ragging. The Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998 provides for suspension or dismissal of the student accused of ragging and mandatorily requires the college administration to inform the nearest police station. If an educational institution fails to do so, it would be “deemed abetment” to commit the offence.