Ragging can be defined as any act which causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological injury, fear or mental pain in an undergraduate or a member of staff. Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions is stated by Act No. 20 of 1998 which has been ratified by Parliament. The broad meaning of this act assumes to totally abolish ragging and other forms of violence such as insults and cruel acts. This law makes ragging a distinct and punishable offence.
Faculty of Medicine, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka is conducted under a ‘zero ragging’ concept which ensures to build a friendly and safe environment for all the students and staff members in the faculty premises. We have been successfully maintaining this concept since the faculty was opened and it has a huge effect on developing the personalities of undergraduates while creating a commendable allowance between the batches in the faculty. We have been able to develop respect towards each other and affection among students rather than creating hatred and violence in the faculty. We provide an example for all the universities across the country to establish a ‘zero ragging’ concept by promoting the successful environment we have created in our faculty.
Also the Punishments described under the Act No.20 of 1997 against ragging include:
1. After the individual is found guilty for ragging within or outside of the university premises, the punishment is two years of rigorous imprisonment.
2. In addition, the court can award compensation to the victim.
3 Where ragging leads to sexual harassment or grievous hurt, the punishment is increased to ten years of imprisonment and an award of compensation. The latter offence is generally non-bailable.
4. The punishment for anyone who acts with the intention threatens to cause injury to the person, reputation or property of any student or threatens to cause injury to a person known to the student is rigorous imprisonment for no more than five years.
5. Acts of criminal intimidation, wrongful restraint and unlawful confinement committed by any person against any student carry a maximum imprisonment period of seven years.
6. Anyone forcefully confining an individual would face the same punishment.
7. If any person forcibly occupies any premises of an educational institution, that person is guilty of an offence. Such person could be imprisoned for no less than ten years and no more than twenty years of imprisonment. In accordance with the Act, a fine can also be imposed.
8. In addition, the court can, depending on the gravity of the offence, order the expulsion of a student from an educational institution if that person is found guilty of any of the offences contained in the Act.
9. If anyone is charged or is under suspicion of sexual harassment or grievous injuries due to ragging as stated in Section 2(2) or, if it leads to confinement or restraint of another’s freedom of movement as noted in Section 4, this is a non-bailable offence.
10. Other than the punishment codes within this act, those of 1994 No. 22 on harassment, extreme and torture or insults are added to this.
It is clear from the above acts that students found guilty of ragging and other forms of violations face harsh punishment under the law. Even bail is often set within specific limits. The sole intention is to rid ragging from the university system. Other than the above mentioned laws, it is possible to punish those who rag or violate another’s rights using certain laws that exist within the higher education system.
If any incidents of ragging take place,
1. Officials within the educational institute -
- Student counsellors of the Faculty,
- Any academic or adminstrative staff member,
- Dean, Faculty of Medicine
2. The nearest Police Station. This will assist the Police to take action under Act No. 20 of 1998.