University of Kerala
Vs. Council, Principals',Colleges,Kerala &Ors  INSC 284 (11 February
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. OF 2009 (Arising out of
SLP(C) 24295 of 2004) The University of Kerala ......Appellant Versus The
Council of Principals of ......Respondents College in Kerala & Ors.
DR. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
educational institutions has been a matter of concern for this Court since
long. Noticing that notwithstanding a judgment of this Court in Vishwa Jagriti
Mission through President v. Central Government through Cabinet Secretary &
Ors. (AIR 2001 SC 2793) few remedial practical measures have been taken to
prevent the menace of ragging in educational institutions, by order dated
27.11.2006, a Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Mr. R.K.
Raghvan, Ex-Director, C.B.I. The Committee has submitted its report and
suggested certain measures. Subsequently orders dated 16.5.2007 and 10.12.2007
were passed. Further Status report has been submitted by Shri Gopal
Subramanium, learned Amicus Curiae. Pursuant to the directions given by this
Court, the second and third reports of the Committee have been filed which read
The Committee under the chairmanship of Dr RK Raghavan met at New Delhi on the
2nd April 2008 to take stock of the situation and review the progress made by
different authorities, agencies and other stake holders who had been directed
by the Hon'ble Supreme Court to implement the recommendations of this
Committee's Report on ragging and also of the Lyngdoh Committee on elections to
the 10th December, 2007 the Supreme Court had heard the matter and had passed
certain orders. Accordingly, on 4-1-2008, the Ministry conveyed to all the
regulatory institutions like UGC, AICTE, MCI, DCI, PCI, INC and ICAR, the
observations of the Court and its directions that in the prospectus of the
higher educational institutions it should be mentioned that if any incident of
ragging comes to the notice of the authority concerned, the accused student
will be given opportunity to explain and if his explanation is not satisfactory
the authority would expel him from the institution. The regulatory institutions
were also requested to intimate from time to time the progress being made and
were also informed that the reports being received from individual higher
educational institutions be consolidated and analysed and only the findings
intimated to the Ministry for placing before the Committee. For arousing public
consciousness against ragging, audio video jingles/spots have been prepared by
the Ministry with the assistance of DAVP for release in the media. The CBSE has
issued a letter to all institutions affiliated to it for implementing an
effective programme of counseling for students involving both parents and
teachers, abolishing corporal punishment, creating awareness about human rights
and indicating the students behaviour pattern in the school leaving and
character certificates. The Committee reviewed the progress reported by the
UGC, MCI and DCI. The absence of any report from NCI was noted. Thereafter the
Committee also heard from the representative of UGC, AICTE, MCI and DCI the
measures taken and progress achieved by them.
MCI informed that of the total 270 medical colleges in the country, 202 had
reported the various measures taken.
constituted anti-ragging committees. They have published names and telephone
numbers of officials to be contacted by freshers in case of ragging. They have
also conducted counselling sessions and orientation courses for senior and
fresh students. Punishments have been given to students found guilty of
ragging, and the number of institutions reporting compliance has increased due
to the efforts of the Council. The Dental Council of India also detailed the
steps being taken to prevent ragging. Its representative said that all the 127
dental colleges in India had constituted anti-ragging committees and squads to
check ragging. These institutions have reported compliance with publication of
telephone numbers and names of officials to be contacted in case of ragging,
besides conducting counselling and orientation courses for seniors and juniors.
The AICTE's Member Secretary informed that the Council had issued
advertisements informing the higher technical educational institutions of the
directives of the Supreme Court and had warned of deterrent punishment to
institutions, like reduction in number of seats. If ragging still took place in
the institution. He said that the individual compliance report received from
each institution has been sent to the Ministry and that a significant reduction
as compared to last year in the number of cases of ragging has been achieved.
He said that efforts were continuing and that it is hoped that incidents of
ragging would be further reduced in the new academic year.
cases of victimization of students who complained about ragging had come to the
notice of the Chairman who promptly took up the matter with the concerned
institution, viz., Dr. MGR Educational & Research Institute, Chennai (a
deemed university). It was only after two months, the Institute gave a reply.
The two students have refuted the allegations made against them in the
Institute's reply. The Committee feels that the whole episode needs to be
probed in detail by the AICTE and a report obtained for further action.
Committee noted that regarding student union elections the Secretary, Higher
Education Department has addressed on 29.11.07 the State Chief Secretaries, for
taking necessary action. It thereafter took the following decisions:
(a) the cases of
harassment of two students for complaining about ragging referred to by
Chairman be sent to the UGC for further action and this be mentioned in the
report to the Apex Court. The petition submitted by the harassed student be
(b) along with the
clause of punishment of expulsion for ragging if found guilty, incorporated in
the prospectus of higher educational institutions, the latter should also
publish the number of cases of ragging and punishments given by them in the
previous academic year. This may be mentioned in the report to the Apex Court
for its orders;
agencies should put up the suggested anti-ragging measures before their council
and get approval;
(d) the MCI should
prepare draft regulation to prevent ragging and send it to the Ministry for
fast-tracking its adoption;
(e) where medical
colleges and dental colleges are having same facilities/ campuses the Councils
concerned should make combined efforts to be more effective;
(f) since the XI Plan
Funding Committees of the UGC will be visiting educational institutions to
assess the grant requirements and invite proposals, prevention of ragging be
made one of the focus items. Since the Committees will have representatives
from AICTE//MCI/DCI etc., it should convey the seriousness of the message to
prevent ragging to the managements;
(g) regulatory bodies
should do more detailed analysis of the reports received to enable targeting
regions and institutions where measures to prevent ragging are not proving to
be very effective;
6 (h) all
institutions concerned should do whatever they can by ensuring punishment to
the students found guilty of ragging, giving wide publicity to such punishments
to act as a deterrent, strict enforcement of the various measures suggested by
the Committee so that each complement the other and the message goes down to
the grass roots;
(i) socially active
NGOs like CURE can be also encouraged to help to prevent and sensitize public
opinion to prevent ragging;
(j) Committee should
meet every month from June to August, and thereafter once in a month to review
the situation ;
(k) the next meeting
of the Committee may be held in May 2008 ( on dates other than 29-31st).
THIRD REPORT: 1.Two
meetings of the Committee appointed by the Supreme Court under the chairmanship
of Dr. R K Raghavan to monitor the various measures to prevent ragging and to
conduct student union elections in higher educational institutions were held on
11th June 2008 and 5th August 2008 in New Delhi.
2. In both the
meetings the Committee reviewed the actions taken on the decisions of the
Committee's previous meetings.
In the meeting held
on 11th June 2008 the Committee expressed its disappointment over the
helplessness shown by the regulatory bodies. It suggested to UGC to link
release of grants under various schemes to educational institutions with the
compliance by them with the directions of the Supreme Court of India. It
directed educational institutions (through the regulatory agencies) to
incorporate in their admission notices/advertisements appropriate messages
regarding `zero tolerence' towards ragging. It decided that an audio video
campaign to prevent ragging should be undertaken at the commencement of the new
academic session. It noted that the Medical Council of India had not framed
draft regulations to prevent ragging despite the Committee's advice. The request
was reiterated to the Council. It also requested the UGC to investigate the
case of harassment of two students who complained about ragging, by the MGR
Institute of Higher Education & Research. In its meeting held on 5th August
2008 the Committee noted that the advertisement and audio visual campaign being
undertaken by the Government of India at the commencement of the new academic
session to prevent ragging in higher educational institutions had good effect.
It appreciated that the advertisements of the Ministry have been exhibited in
the Ministry's website for use by educational institutions in their local
campaigns. It also noted that in addition the Delhi Police had issued
advertisements in the national capital region to prevent ragging and the need
to prevent ragging was rieterated in the State Education Ministers' Conference
held on 23rd and 24th July 2008 in the capital. The Committee felt that the
publicity effort must percolate to the institutional level and each campus
should make efforts to publicize and sensitize students regarding the menace of
3. In its meeting
held on 5th August 2008, the Committee discussed the work being done by several
NGOs. Their work was appreciated. The video on the website of CURE was
specially mentioned in addition to the compilation of data regarding ragging
cases reported in various parts of the country. The NGO from West Bengal which
is engaged in prevention of ragging was also referred to. The various councils
were advised by the Committee to draw upon the efforts of NGOs where necessary.
4. The Committee felt
that the audiovisual campaign has been successful in raising the level of
awareness of the people about the evil effects of ragging. The Committee felt
that the advertisements campaign should be continued to cover the commencement
of professional courses. In the case of shortage of funds the campaign can be
focused on medical colleges in regions more prone to ragging incidents.
5. Reviewing the
number of cases reported in the current academic session the Committee decided
that the case of ragging in the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur College of Nursing, New
Delhi should be enquired into by the Nursing Council of India.
resolved that any incident as reported in the press should be presumed to be
ragging unless on enquiry it is found to be otherwise. The incidents of ragging
reported are passed off as altercation or spats between students and this
precludes detailed enquiry and punishment of the guilty students. It therefore
desired that the reported incidents should be enquired into by the Nursing
Council to ascertain the facts thereof. The Committee noted the ragging case
reported at The Graphic Era Institute of Technology, UP. The AICTE was
requested to look into the matter to ascertain the facts regarding the
punishment given to the guilty students. The case of "paid ragging"
in Coimbatore reported in The Indian Express of 5.8.2008, where the fresh
students were forced to pay for the luxury trips of senior students in star
hotels was referred to the AICTE for investigation and necessary action. The
Committee emphasized the need to give exemplary punishment as directed by the
Supreme Court to the students found guilty of ragging so that the seriousness
with which authorities view such incidents sink in.
6. Regarding the
harassment case of two students by the MGR Institute of Higher Education &
Research, Chennai the Committee was unhappy to note the slow progress. It
directed the UGC to conduct an enquiry by deputing a joint team of UGC and
AICTE and submit its findings expeditiously.
7. The Committee
discussed the problems being created by anonymous complaints, lack of
definition of permissible modes of interaction of senior with junior students
and the role of student unions in preventing ragging. The unwillingness of
complainants to disclose their identity and details of ragging incidents and
persons involved is posing a big problem in taking action. The Committee felt
that ragging is a very complex phenomenon involving social, psychological and
other dimensions. It would not be appropriate to face the 11 problem from the
angle of regulations and restrictions alone because it is very difficult for
educational administrators to tackle demands of students' self governing
amongst students through student unions about the bad effects of ragging can be
tried as a method.
8. The Committee felt
that more was needed to be done by regulatory bodies to prevent ragging and the
response of educational institutions to efforts by the Councils lacked
promptness. They should formulate regulations and give directions. The
Committee felt that the learned Additional Solicitor General be requested to
approach the Hon'ble Court on the various other suggestions like dedicated
wardens etc., contained in the Committee's report."
3. Ragging is
rationalised and justified as a way of "Introduction or getting
familiar" with the freshers at the starting of an academic session of any
4. In a very positive
aspect, "Ragging" could not be considered as an abridgement between
the seniors and the freshers, whereas "Introduction"
could be considered
as genesis of relationship between the two.
5. When any student
is admitted in a particular institution he/she has to face certain problems and
one of them which affects the most is staying away from home and especially
away from the dear ones. Because of these problems, the freshers expect some
one to look after them, with whom they can have homely environment as they were
enjoying at their respective homes. But nowadays the seniors have crossed the
barriers, by which they have changed the meaning of "Introduction"
"Seniors" under the garb of "Introduction" have started
ragging the freshers and due to which, in recent years, it has become the talk
of the day that the freshers who have faced severe ragging are leaving the
educational institutions and some have attempted to commit suicide and even
some have committed it.
7. In modern era, "Ragging"
has become to be known only as synonym of "teasing",
"terror", "harassment", "cruelty",
"fear" and "physical and mental torture".
8. By perusal of
records and survey, it has come to be accepted that "Ragging" is a
systematized form of Human Rights' abuse as embodied under the Constitution of
India as well as other Constitutions of the World.
9. Over the years in
all over the world and especially in South Asia, the practice of
"Ragging" has come to be meant as an extreme "harassment",
"terror" and even "physical and mental torture" of
10. Ragging is a set
of undisciplined activities undertaken by the seniors to break the ice with the
juniors, who have been suddenly thrown into a totally new environment. The
contention of seniors behind all such activities is simply to bring the
freshers down to earth, because in their opinion the freshers do not respect
the seniors and by doing all such inhuman activities under the garb of
"Introduction", the seniors rag the freshers so that the freshers may
respect them and be under their control.
But this act cannot
be reasonable and just. The act by the seniors is a "fist of steel against
ice" and likewise by doing so, they shatter the ambition, aim and object
of freshers and they become aloof in this practical world.
11. To prohibit
"Ragging", this Cour has given a series of guidelines to the
educational institutions whether being Central, State or Private Institute.
[See: Vishva Jagriti
Mission v. Central Government (AIR 2001 SC 2793)].
12. Ragging in
essence is a human rights' abuse. Ragging can be in various forms. It can be
physical abuse or mental harassment. In present times shocking incidents of
ragging have come to the notice. Sometimes violence is used. The student is
physically tortured or psychologically terrorized. All human being should be
free to claim, as a matter of right in the society in which they live, for life
of dignity but when it is intentionally or recklessly damaged or departed then
the person's human right is abused;
in that sense ragging
is the best example of human rights' abuse.
Encyclopaedia (1938 Edition, Vol. II) and Random House Dictionary of the
English Language (1967 Edition) have references about ragging. The synonyms of
ragging as racking, ducking, teasing, etc. are mentioned in detail in these
reference books. In England the credit/discredit goes to Duke of Exeter to
introduce the practice of ragging.
Racking was another
form of ragging in which a special instrument called 'rack' was used to torture
the victim. Gradually it mixed up with the term of ragging. Egyptian, Romans
and Greeks were also not lagging behind. Some form or the other of ragging was found
in their societies.
14. Ragging is not a
new phenomenon. It existed even in older times. It was part of civilised
societies. In ancient seats of learning, e.g., Berytus and Athens ragging was
prevalent. In army schools of England ragging existed as a tradition. Later on
this tradition took its root in medical and engineering colleges. In English
society ragging took the form of freshers being paraded on street which caused
much annoyance not only to freshers but even to general public especially girls.
15. Ragging is a form
of systematic and sustained physical, mental and sexual abuse of fresh students
at the college/university/any other educational institution at the hands of
senior students of the same institution and sometimes even by outsiders. Although
some form of ragging is present in every educational institution but serious
abuses of human rights take place generally in medical and engineering colleges
and Armed Forces. The form and effect of ragging differ from institution to
institution. It creates a sense of fear in the minds of first year students and
they become apprehensive of unforeseen incidents which later comes true and
culminates in actual form of action.
16. Ragging is
"display of noisy, disorderly conduct and great high spirits considered by
perpetrators (raggers) as excellent fun and by many outsiders as a bloody
17. Another meaning
of ragging is "to question vigorously and jocularly, horseplay or assail
roughly and noisily".
18. Yet another
definition of ragging refers to popular Spanish game of "Bull-Fight",
wherein Bull is shown red 'rag' and a person shouts which infuriates the Bull
19. As noted above
"Ragging" means display of noisy, disorderly conduct or doing any act
which causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological harm or raise
apprehension or fear or shame or embarrassment to a student in any educational
institution and includes, 17 ( a ) teasing, abusing of, playing practical
jokes on, or causing hurt to, such students; or (b) asking the student to do
any act or perform something which such student will not, in the ordinary
course, willingly do.
"Ragging" means doing an act which causes or is likely to cause
insult or annoyance or fear or apprehension or threat or intimidation or
outraging of modesty or injury to a student.
"Ragging" means causing, inducing, compelling or forcing a student,
whether by way of a practical joke or otherwise, to do any act which detracts
from human dignity or violates his person or exposes him to ridicule or to
forbear from doing any lawful act, by intimidating, wrongfully restraining,
wrongfully confining, or injuring him or by using criminal force to him or by
holding out to him any threat of such intimidation, wrongful restraint, wrongful
confinement, injury or the use of criminal force.
22. The word
"ragging" colloquially means to tease or play practical jokes on
someone, specially on students who are the fresh entrants in the schools,
colleges, Universities or any other educational institutions. In the beginning,
it was a way of introduction of the first year students in the institutions
which gradually has become not only serious problem but also a social stigma.
While in the age of a child in cradle, it was a harmless practice by senior
students over their juniors. Regarding the origin or initiative steps of the
ragging, it can be traced back to the Seventh or Eighth Century A.D.
23. In 1828-1845, in
United States' Colleges and Universities Campus, several student-organizations
called 'fraternities' popped up. Freshers to these fraternities were known as
pledges. In its rudimentary form, it as called 'hazing' which was merely ritual
to test the courage of the pledge.
24. In ancient
Greece, freshers to the sporting communities were subjected to humiliation and
teasing to inculcate team spirit. After the passage of time this type of
activities were adopted by Armed Forces in which new entrants have to pass out
by obeying the seniors in off-duty time.
As has been said
above, in the age of child in cradle, the ragging was a harmless practice
rather permissible in the society but it had taken shape of brutality,
humiliation and harassment after the First World War. In fact the technique,
style or forms which the soldiers participating in the War had learnt and faced
in army atmosphere, were brought by them, when they re- entered in the colleges
after returning from the War. Actually these forms were devised to highlight
the importance of the team. Gradually these techniques and forms passed on
those persons who did not know the real meaning of the technical word 'hazing'
or 'ragging'. Now the ragging has acquired a new heinous meaning which
indicates 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 undisciplined 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 student
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.
25. A rare and
strange case of ragging is as follows -Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikousky was a renowned
composer of Russia. It was reported in 1893 that he died due to cholera and
cholera was caused due to drinking of contaminated water. This was a blatant
lie. However, this lie prevailed for about a century. The truth was revealed
by, Alexandra Orlova, the biographer of the composer and that too when the
composer died and the biographer migrated to America. The biographer revealed
that the Russian composer was a homosexual during his education period and this
fact became known to college authorities and they decided to punish the
composer and was likely to be expelled. The news of proposed punishment leaked
to his old classmates and they thought that if the composer is punished it will
bring a bad name to the institution. Therefore, the composer was summoned
before eight former classmates in the "Court of Honour" and was asked
to end his own life to "preserve the good name of the school".
The composer ended
his life by consuming poison brought by one of the Judges and story of death by
cholera was concocted.
consideration of the reports, we direct that the Government in the States and
the Union Territories and the University shall act in terms of the guidelines
formulated by the Constituted Committee. The MCI, BCI in consultation with UGC
shall frame the requisite regulations which shall be binding on the
institutions. They shall be indicated to the students at the time of admission
by appropriate provision in the prospectus issued for admission. The
consequences which flow from not observing the guidelines shall also be
indicated. Inquiries which are pending shall be completed and report shall be
submitted before this Court.
27. A question raised
was regarding giving opportunity to the offender before taking actions like
expulsion etc. Delay in taking action in many cases would frustrate the need
for taking urgent action. In such cases if the authorities are prima facie
satisfied about the errant act of any student, they can in appropriate cases
pending final decision, suspend the student from the institution and the hostel
if any and give opportunity to him to have his say. Immediately, the police
shall be informed and criminal law set into motion. If it comes to the notice
of the university or controlling body that any educational institution is
trying to shield the errant students, they shall be free to reduce the grants
in aid and in serious cases deny grants in aids.
28. The matter shall
be listed in the month of March, 2009.