Social Awareness

Ragging And Bullying – A Reminder

It was two days before an Australian mother, asking for disability awareness to be added to the school curriculum after a bullying incident left her nine-year-old son crying and expressing thoughts of suicide.

What is the punishment for ragging and bullying in IPC (Indian Penal Code)?

(short answer: ragging or bullying punishments can’t be specifically explained unless we know the area of offense, region/state)

There are thirteen provisions of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) which can be used by a fresher who is being ragged to register an FIR (First Information Report) in the police station under whose jurisdiction-area the crime has taken place. These sections are:

  • 339 Wrongful restraint
  • 340 Wrongful confinement
  • 341 Punishment for wrongful restraint
  • 342 Punishment for wrongful confinement
  • 343 Obscene acts and songs
  • 344 Punishment for criminal intimidation In cases of extreme ragging that includes violence:
    • 345 Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt
    • 346 Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means
    • 347 Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt
    • 348 Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means In case a ragging victim has lost his/her life:
      • 349 Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder
      • 350 Abetment of suicide
      • 351 Attempt to murder

IPC doesn’t contain specifically contain any crime called ragging or punishment for it but one can use the info listed above to get access to the statute via ragging. But other part of IPC can be used if applicable, e.g., if a person gets injured due to ragging, then those parts of IPC like assault can be put in the police complaint/FIR etc. Based on directions of Supreme Court and social pressure, guidelines against ragging have been formulated which can be used to prevent and get redressal against ragging incidents:

UGC guidelines: http://www.isibang.ac.in/~ar/Ragging-ProhibitionPreventionPunishment.pdf

Also, a notification by AICTE is at this link or else see Information Technology Act, 2000: https://www.aicte- india.org/downloads/itact2000.pdf

From above notification, following punishments can be given to those indulging in ragging:

1 a) Depending upon the nature and gravity of the offence as established the possible punishments for those found guilty of ragging at the institution level shall be any one or any combination of the following:

  • Cancellation of Admission
  • Suspension from attending classes
  • Withholding/withdrawing scholarship/fellowship and other benefits
  • Debarring from appearing in any test/examination or other evaluation process
  • Withholding Results
  • Debarring from representing the institution in any regional, national or international meet, tournament, youth festival, etc.
  • Suspension/expulsion from the hostel
  • Rustication from the institution for period ranging from 1 to 4 semesters
  • Expulsion from the institution and consequent debarring from admission to any other institution

Collective punishment: when the persons committing or abetting the crime of ragging are not identified, the institution shall resort to collective punishment as a deterrent to ensure community pressure on the potential raggers. Also, if an institute doesn’t take measures to stop ragging, the institute can also be punished. Read the UGC and above AICTE doc for details.

IPC doesn’t provide specifically for ragging or bullying. The laws for punishment for ragging vary from state to state. The highest punishment according to my knowledge is enacted under section 4 of Chhattisgarh Shaikshanik Sansthan Me Pratarna Ka Pratishedh Adhiniyam, 2001, which is up to 5 years imprisonment or fine which may extend to ₹5000 or both.

The Tripura Educational Institutions (Prevention of Ragging) Act, 1990 section 4 provides punishment up to 4 years imprisonment or fine or both. The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1997 section 4 provides punishment up to 2 years imprisonment or fine which may extend to ₹10000 or both. Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 section 4 also provides punishment up to 2 years imprisonment or fine which may extend to ₹10000 or both. Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998 section 4 also provides punishment up to 2 years imprisonment or fine which may extend to ₹10000 or both. West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Education Institutions Act, 2000 section 4 provides punishment up to 2 years imprisonment or fine which may extend to ₹5000 or both. The Karnataka Education Act, 1983 section 116 provides punishment up to 1 year imprisonment or fine which may extend to ₹2000 or both. The Assam Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998 section 4 also provides punishment up to 6 months imprisonment or fine which may extend to ₹10000 or both. This according to my knowledge being the lowest punishment for ragging. In addition to these some laws also provide for disqualification or expulsion of student from the educational institution on conviction on the charge of ragging.

What is Cyber Bullying?

Cyber bullying is the harassment or bullying executed through digital devices like computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. The platforms where cyber bullying can occur include social media, chat rooms, and gaming platforms where people can view and participate in the sharing of content. The different types of cyber bullying involve causing humiliation through hateful comments on online platforms/ apps, or through SMS or messaging. It comprises posting, sending or sharing negative, nasty or false information about another individual for causing humiliation and character assassination.

Different Types of Cyber Bullying

A cognizance of the different types of cyber bullying is necessary. This enables parents and young adults to report cyberbullying and adopt measures to prevent cyber bullying. Following are some of the common types of cyber bullying:

  • Posting hurtful, nasty or humiliating rumors or comments about an individual online
  • Publishing an embarrassing or nasty photo or video
  • Creating a fake or nasty webpage about another individual
  • Issuing online threats provoking an individual to kill themselves or hurt someone else
  • Triggering religious, racial, ethnic or political vitriol online by posting hate comments or content
  • Faking an identity online to ask for or post personal or fake information about someone

Also, one should be aware of “doxing” here. It is a practice prevalent on the Internet for researching and publishing personal information about an individual. One obtains information from the person’s social media accounts and other online profiles. It is then used for online harassment, online defamation and other forms of cyber bullying.

Prevent Cyber Bullying

Tip 1 to Prevent Cyber Bullying – Be Wary of Your Child’s Online Activities. In this digital era, children are growing up with technology at their fingertips. Thus, different types of cyber bullying have become a household occurrence. Teenagers and adolescents are more vulnerable to cyber bullying as they have limited understanding of the good and the bad. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be aware of your child’s online activities in order to prevent cyber bullying. Be cognizant of the apps and digital media that your child is using. It is imperative that you ensure that your child engages more in offline activities than an addiction to computers, online gaming, and smartphones.

Tip 2 to Prevent Cyberbullying – Watch out for These Signs. The following are some warning signs that your child is being cyber bullied or is cyber bullying others;

  • Considerable increase or decrease in your child’s usage of a mobile, laptop or tablet
  • Display of emotional responses such as sadness, anger or happiness to the activities on their device • The tendency to avoid discussion on their online activities
  • Hiding of the device screen when others are close by
  • Indifference to social activities and gatherings, and outdoor activities
  • Sudden deactivation of their social media accounts or opening of new ones
  • Becoming depressed and withdrawn

Tip 3 Steps to Prevent Cyberbullying – Steps to Take in the Aftermath. If you observe any of the aforesaid warning signs, it may indicate your ward’s involvement in some form of cyberbullying. In the unfortunate event of your child experiencing cyber bullying, it is essential that you take prompt steps to show your support as well as report cyber bullying.

The following are some of the things that you can do in case your child or kin is a victim of cyberbullying.

Notice: Notice if there is any abnormal change in the behavior or mood. Try to self-investigate the causes and note if these changes usually take place during the use of digital devices.

Conversation: Don’t try to sound too prying or demanding, but gently engage your ward in a conversation. Take him/her into confidence and try to understand what is happening, when it all started and who are all involved?

Record: Try to maintain a record of the online activities. If possible, take screenshots of any offensive or harmful content or post. In any case, evidence of online activities is mandatory when reporting cyber bullying.

Report: Most social media platforms have clear guidelines in place to report cyber bullying. Social media platforms can help you in having the offensive post removed. To report cyber bullying in India, you can send your complaint to complaint-mwcd@gov.in. Immediately register a complaint with the police in case your child is receiving sexual or physical threats, or you sense an illegitimate activity or crime underway.

Support: Recovering from the trauma of cyberbullying can be time-taking and hard. In such cases, the victim needs support and guidance. It could come from parents, peers, family members or teachers. If required, seek the help of a professional counselor.

Report Cyber Bullying in India

An act of cyber bullying can be reported at the cyber crime cell of any city, regardless of the place where the act was committed. Cyber bullying or cyber defamation of any kind is considered as a cyber crime and the laws covering them come under the Information Technology Act.

Anti-Cyber Bullying Laws in India

Cyber bullying in India has reared its ugly head in more ways than one and it is only getting worse with every passing day. However, it is shocking that there are no special Anti-Cyberbullying Laws in India yet. Following are some cyber laws though that cover some of the acts classified as cyber bullying in India.

  • Sec.66A – Sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.
  • Sec.66C – Identity Theft
  • Sec.66D – Cheating by personation by using the computer resource
  • Sec.66E – Violation of privacy
  • Sec.67B – Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in any sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form
  • Sec.72 – Breach of confidentiality and privacy
  • Sec.503 Indian Penal Code (IPC) – Sending threatening messages through email
  • Sec.509 IPC – Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman
  • Sec.499 IPC – Sending defamatory messages through email
  • Sec .500 IPC – Email Abuse

Incognito Forensic Foundation (IFF Lab) – Your Partner in Fighting Cyberbullying

Incognito Forensic Foundation (IFF Lab) is a private forensic laboratory in Bangalore and Chennai that offers consultation and digital forensic services for cyber bullying. If you need any guidance on how to prevent cyber bullying or report cyber bullying in India, IFF Lab is there to assist you. IFF Lab has a state-of-the-art digital forensics laboratory that houses the latest digital forensics tools and technologies. This enables them to join hands with Law Enforcement Agencies for investigating cases of online defamation and cyberbullying.

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