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Indian Express, Mumbai (Bombay), 27 December 1997
"Don't spare the rod on errant teachers"
By Sudeshna Chatterjee
MUMBAI, December 26: Goregaon police's insistence to "investigate further" a case lodged against three teachers of the A B Goregaonkar English School for beating up some students may lead to a whole new interpretation of the State Government's Secondary School Code, which allows teachers to administer corporal punishment.
The case which ordinarily should have ended with a nominal punishment to the teachers, is fast acquiring political colour with the extraordinary interest the ruling Shiv Sena is taking in it. The party mouthpiece Saamna has carried two articles condemning the teachers. The first piece was carried on December 20, two days after the incident happened and the one of the students' parents lodged a complaint with the Goregaon police. While the second one appeared on December 22 in which a demand for the teachers' suspension was made.
Since then, the local Vibhag Pramukh, Vinod Ghosalkar has led his men to gherao the school and also to the police station, where he demanded that the non-cognisable offence registered against the three teachers be made a cognisable one. Though his request was rejected, the police approached the Metropolitan Magistrate, Borivli to seek permission to probe the charges against the teachers further. They have been granted permission.
On December 18, Suhasini Vichare lodged a complaint with the Goregaon police that her son, Ganesh was beaten up along with two others - Amar Jadhav and Rahul Jadhav. Suhasini Vichare says she would not have filed a police complaint had the school authorities given her an audience.
What hurt her, and probably also prompted her to seek police intervention, was the rude attitude of the principal, who said the boys deserved it.
The three teachers - S S Gaikwad, B N More, V D Purav - meanwhile, don't know what they could have done to deserve this. "This is the first time in my fifteen-years career as a teacher that I have beaten up someone...and now my name figures in police record. There is no greater dishonour for a teacher than to get mentioned in newspapers for beating up students," says Purav. "The boys were all calling us names and cracking vulgar jokes. After repeated warnings failed, we beat them up, but certainly not so badly as it is being made out to be," adds Gaikwad.
The teachers feel that the chapter should have been closed after they apologised to the parents. Suhasini Vichare insists they never did. Legally, the accused teachers have a strong case. The State Government's Secondary School Code, 1978, gives special corporal power to the teachers.
It says: "Corporal punishment shall not ordinarily be inflicted in any recognised school by a teacher but under very exceptional circumstances the teacher may in good faith administer moderate and reasonable corporal punishment to a pupil to enforce discipline." The code, however, is open to interpretations and that's where the Sainiks see an issue that will keep them in newspapers for the days to come.
Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.
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