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The Legality of Bullying in India

Understanding Bullying

AB is a kid who gets ready for school. He goes to his bus stop to wait for the bus. When he gets onto the bus, he sees that the seats are full, and the empty ones are reserved for someone else. He pleads with his peers, juniors, and his seniors for a seat, only for them to hurl abuses at him. He complains to his teacher but the teacher is either too incompetent to care, or even if they step up, they'll only take minor action.

The day is not over for AB though, because the environment of the school campus is even worse. One day, a senior snatched his glasses just because AB giggled a bit for not making a basketball shot. On another day, he is forced to run errands for his so-called "friends" who threaten to beat him or rat him out to the principal if he doesn't comply. It's a rinse and repeat process that AB has to go through. Sometimes he wondered if he wants to end it all by taking tragic and drastic measures like suicide or even a school shooting.

On April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold laid siege in the Columbine High School. They killed twelve school students and injured more. Though they killed themselves during their war against the police officers, the whole incident sparked a series of debates. Many people suspect that bullying was one of the primary sources of Columbine High School. But this happened in the United States.

In India, gun laws are stricter juxtaposed to the US where getting weapons is a right under the Second Amendment. But just because getting guns are harder, it doesn't mean it's not impossible. If we don't handle the case of bullying, sooner or later students would take drastic steps, or we might even have the Columbine incident in India.

What is bullying and what are its legal implications?

Definition: Bullying can be defined as an act of aggressive behavior by one person against another which is common in school.

Bullying is done for many reasons:
  • Unable to channel their emotions and they extract them out to others.
  • To imitate the people they respect the most.
  • To show their dominance and popularity in school
  • They are unhappy with their lives
  • They bully the victims to get what they want.

Bullying can be repetitive over time, and there are times when it could have physical, mental, and psychological impacts on the bully and the bullied.

In India, there are no legal policies that could handle bullying in school. In other words, bullying is not technically illegal. However, if the person commits the act of bullying and then the victim committed suicide, then the bullied will be liable for the abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

In other words, the laws will act only at the consequences of the action. The severe flaw in the legal system makes bullying a recurrent theme in school and how the place that was supposed to make a child into an adequate member of society ironically hates the latter because the place itself was toxic.

Effect of bullying on a person:

  • The victim would isolate themself or would resort to self-harm.
  • Bullying disrupts any chance to learn new things and form new relationships.
  • A person would suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other social phobias.
  • A person's self-esteem and self-confidence would damage beyond repair.
  • A person who gets bullied would often have anti-social behavior, substance abuse, and even become aggressive.
  • The person would become depressed and would want to avoid going to school.

Steps were taken by the CBSE to tackle bullying

The Ministry of Human Resources Development told the CBSE schools to create anti-ragging committees at the school level. Furthermore, they told the schools to take serious actions against the students who commit acts of bullying. The most severe punishment is rustication in special cases. The ministry even told them to adopt the use of notice boards that warns students of bullying.

A report by the Raghavan Committee suggested that school teachers and principals must be held accountable for the acts of bullying on the school premises. The school system must take steps like the UGC which takes stricter actions against ragging on college campuses.

In the University of Kerela vs. Council, Principal's colleges, Kerela & others:

"Now the question arises, why should the Indian penal laws not apply to a school? You may say that the schoolboys are only in their late teens but do not forget that there are several crimes in various cities including murders which are committed by teenagers today"

In other words, bullying endangers the lives of the youth in India.

Case Laws:
  • Vishaka vs. The State of Rajasthan:

    The first time, the Supreme Court faced the issue f bullying. It laid several guidelines for the protection of female workers in the workplace. They believe that they need to consider all types of bullying in several cases.
     
  • Consumer Education and Research Center vs. The Union of India:

    "Right to life includes protection of the health and strength of the worker is a minimum requirement to enable a person to live with human dignity. The right to human dignity, development of personality, social protection, right to rest, and leisure are fundamental human rights to a workman assured by the Charter of Human Rights, in the Preamble and Arts.38 and 39 of the Constitution."

Conclusion

Bullying represents everything wrong with the modern schooling system in India. It makes the school environment unhealthy and toxic. The students who go there often face the wrath of bullies who lack any empathy and sympathy just because their egos are in their prime. They want to make themselves "cool" in front of their friends and peer. In actuality, they don't see the consequences of bullying and how they would get into trouble if the victims do something tragically drastic.

The apathy shown by the school authorities also makes many students give up their faith in school and society in general. If the schools aren't sensitized about this and then they question why would a victim take drastic steps like suicide or cruel retaliation. One author at Youth Ki Awaaz states that a victim of bullying is like a volcano. They don't know when they'll erupt.
Unless the school is willing to see Columbine in India, they need to start taking stricter measures against bullying.

Harsher punishments must be taken against students who indulge the acts of bullying which could affect the victim physically or mentally. Our laws should now bring policies that could arrest anyone who could endanger the lives of the victims of bullying. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution ensures the right to life and personal liberty. The said article also ensures the dignity of individuals. Our schools must now become individual-centric which could focus on the lives of children on a personal level. That way we could avoid bullying en masse.

References:
  • Why Bullying Turned My Relationship With School Sour
  • Effects of Bullying on Mental Health
  • Mental Health and Bullying
  • Who Can Get Gun Licence In India?
  • All you need to know about Anti-Bullying laws in India
  • Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
  • Juvenile Crimes in India
  • What Is Bullying
  • Columbine and the Anti-Bullying Movement: 20 Years Later
  • Columbine High School massacre

Credentials:
My name is Anish Bachchan and I'm a 5th Year Law Student at Amity Law School, Noida. I have published my various writings in The Los Angeles Times, The Times of India, Live Wire, Youth Ki Awaaz, Legal Service India, and Law Corner. I have also published two books i.e.
  1. Patent 101 Level 1: Understanding Patent of Aggressive Monetization of Video Games
  2. Contempt of Court with References to Media Trials

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