The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court has held that a school teacher scolding or inflicting some reasonable punishment to correct a student would not constitute an offence.
“This incident is quite normal in a primary school. In order to discipline the students and to inculcate good habits, the teacher is bound to act accordingly and sometimes be a bit harsh,” the single judge bench of the high court said.
“The students are admitted in the school for not only the purpose of teaching but also to learn other aspects of life, which include 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,” Justice Bharat Deshpande said in his order.
The court order came in a plea filed by Rekha Faldessai, a teacher who the Goa children’s court convicted in 2019 for an offence punishable under Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC.
She was also held guilty under various sections of the Goa Children’s Act over an incident that happened in 2014.
Faldessai was accused of beating two students who were aged five and eight at the time after one of them drank water from a classmate’s bottle.
The second student, the five-year-old student’s elder sibling, was also allegedly ‘beaten’ by the teacher when she came to check on her sister.
Arun Bras De Sa, Faldessai’s advocate, argued that as a teacher, she had the authority to correct a student who is committing mistakes or not maintaining discipline. De Sa said ensuring that students act in a disciplined manner cannot be construed as an offence under the IPC or the Goa Children’s Act because there is no mens rea (intention of wrongdoing).
On the allegation of the teacher hitting the students with a stick or a ruler, the court held that the witness statements on this were conflicting and 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 a 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,” the court said while overturning the conviction and added that “a civilized society needs a civilized young generation which would respect each other and would be considered as a future generation of the nation.”
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