Shimla:Â The Himachal assembly today passed the Himachal Pradesh Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Ragging) Bill 2009 by voice vote but not before defeating an amendment put forth by opposition congress members.
The new law intends to provide a deterrent for curbing the menace in educational institutions by making ragging a cognisable, non-bailable and compoundable offence.
While not opposing the spirit of the bill, congress member Sukhwinder Singh Sukku moved an amendment which sought to drop a clause for debarring a student found inadvertently indulging in ragging for three years from taking admission to any other institution in the state.
He argued that the new proposed law was punitive rather than being reformative and could be misused.
He pointed out that students politics was an organised activity in colleges and universities and there was every likelihood that this law could be misused to penalise a students on the grounds of ragging.
The congressman sought that bill be referred to a select committee which could debate on all the proposed clauses before it is presented to the house again.
Supporting the contention, Rajesh Dharmani (Congress) sought reducing the number of years for debarring a student indicted of ragging from an educational institution lest he turn criminal and asked for providing an appellant authority other than what the bill sought to enact.
Opening the discussion, senior congressman Thakur Kaul Singh said debarring a student from taking admission to any educational institution in the state could defeat the â€˜right to educationâ€™, now a fundamental right of every student.
Asking for unanimity in passing the law, education minister Ishwar Dass Dhiman said that the oppositionsâ€™ empathy towards those who ragged their juniors was misplaced.
The problem reached such proportions that Aman Kachroo, a student of Tanda medical college died because of it.
Enacting such a law, he said, would send out a message that ragging would not be tolerated anymore and would bring about discipline in educational institutions.
Intervening in the debate, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said the proposed law intended to create a fearless environment in educational institutions and it was appropriate to have a deterrent law in place for it.
With the opposition not satisfied to the response, speaker Tulsi Ram put the amendment proposed by Sukhwinder Singh to vote and the nays of the ruling party defeated it.
The speaker then put the bill that up for vote which was passed overwhelmingly by a voice vote.
The legislation disallows ragging in any form, within or outside the premises of an educational institution.
Whenever a complaint of ragging is made in writing, the head of the educational institution would have to conduct an inquiry within 24 hours.
Offenders would stand to be expelled from the institution and would not be eligible for admission to any other institution for a period of three years.