Dhaka: Bangladesh`s High Court on Thursday
declared "illegal and unconstitutional" all types of corporal
punishment in schools, reinforcing a 2010 government circular
which banned such practices in educational institutions.
A High Court bench comprising judges Mohammad Imman
Ali and Sheikh Hasan Arif came up with the judgment. They
asked the government to enforce a guideline, which was
formulated last year to ban all kinds of corporal punishment.
The circular sought legal action against teachers who
hand down corporal punishments to their students.
The verdict came as rights groups Bangladesh Legal Aid
and Services Trust (BLAST) and Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) in
June 2010 filed a public interest litigation seeking necessary
directives on the government to stop cruel and inhuman
punishment for the students.
The government, however, in August 2010 reinforced a
ban on physical punishment to school children issuing a
circular against the backdrop of frequent media reports of
children`s exposure to corporal punishments.
"It has been noticed that teachers of some
educational institutions impose inhuman punishments on the
students for various reasons including violation of discipline
and negligence in study. The school management committees will
identify the teachers," the August circular said.
The government circular also said the violation of
the order would be treated as "misconduct" on the part of the
teachers who could also be exposed to justice under Child Act
or at least departmental actions.
Officials said corporal punishment like canning in
schools was banned under a 1995 law, while it was supplemented
by a subsequent High Court order and another government
directive issued in 2008.
But a UNICEF study two years ago said nine out of 10
children in the country were physically beaten in schools.
In a last such major incident a 10 year old school
student in July 2010 committed suicide after being exposed to
such heavy punishment at a Dhaka school.
Authorities in March last year ordered an
investigation as a teacher`s cruelty sent eight children, aged
between seven and 11, to hospital in southeastern Feni after
they were severely canned by their headmistress for forgetting
to bring colour pencils in the class.
The incident subsequently prompted the High Court to
issue an interim order to stop beating in schools on writ
petitions by BLAST and ASK.