PANAJI: A teacher scolding or inflicting some reasonable punishment on a child in order to maintain discipline in a school would not constitute an offence, the Bombay high court at Goa has ruled while overturning the conviction of a primary school teacher who was sentenced to one-day imprisonment and a fine of ₹1 lakh for allegedly ‘beating’ two school children with a stick.
“This incident is quite normal in a primary school. To discipline the students and to inculcate good habits, the teacher is bound to act accordingly and sometimes be a bit harsh,” the high court single judge bench of Bharat Deshpande ruled.
“The students are admitted to the school for not only the purpose of teaching but also to learn other aspects of life, including discipline. The purpose of the school is not only to teach the academic subjects but to prepare such students in all aspects of life so that in future he would be a person of good behaviour and nature,” the high court observed.
In 2014, the teacher was alleged to have ‘beaten’ two girls — sisters aged five and eight — because the younger girl was drinking water from another student’s bottle after she had finished her own water bottle. When her sister came from another class to check on her, she was also allegedly ‘beaten’ by the teacher with a ruler in her hand.
“It seems that [the younger child] consumed water from the bottle of another student, which is certainly against the discipline of the school and bound to receive complaints from parents of other students.
In such circumstances, the accused being a teacher, is bound to act accordingly. In order to maintain discipline in her own class, sometimes, she has to use reasonable force if the students are not able to understand the instructions and are repeatedly committing such mistakes,” the court ruled.
The high court also observed that owing to conflicting witness statements over whether a stick or ruler was used, the use of the stick couldn’t be conclusively established.
“As far as the use of ruler or stick by the accused is concerned, the same has not been sufficiently established. Therefore, there is serious doubt about the use of any ruler or stick by the accused on that particular day,” the judge said.
“Teachers are respected in society the most. They are the backbone of our education system. If the teachers fear such allegations for trivial matters and, more specifically, while correcting children, it would be difficult to conduct schools, give proper education, and, more specifically, maintains discipline. A civilised society needs a civilised young generation which would respect each other and be considered a future generation of the nation,” the high court also said.