And then Suresh Sankhyan wanted to do the post-mortem

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Aman Satya Kachroo, left-most, in his school days. Photo by Vaibhav Chhabra via Facebook

Before he died of brain haemorrhage (and not cardiac arrest as the papers incorrectly claimed), Aman Satya Kachroo wrote a note about who beat him up. In the note he named the four accused who are all now in jail. The note reads like a dying declaration and is signed by 12 witnesses. It seems unlikely that even one of the 12 witnesses will have the courage to say in court that they saw the lynching happening before their eyes. Even as they came down to Gurgaon for the cremation, they must have been getting calls from their parents, ‘Beta, just say you didn’t see anything. Why get into these court hassles and potential threats from the families of the accused?’

Even so, the evidence against the four is probably the strongest ever and with the state government determined to punish the accused, it is only a matter of time before they are given rigorous imprisonment. They evidence may not have been so strong had Rohit Dhar, Aman Kachroo’s uncle who reached there as soon as he was informed of the death, allowed Dr Suresh Sankhyan to conduct the post-mortem and write the crucial post-mortem report. Sankhyan who? Same gentleman who happened to be the principal of the college, the same gentleman who didn’t take action over the repeated ragging complaints from freshers! Having presided over a fresher’s death, he wanted to write the post-mortem. Well, because this was the only medical college in Tanda. Mr Dhar must be lauded that even in a state of grief he had the presence of mind to drive the body to Dharamshala and made sure three doctors did the post-mortem.

However, the police in Kangra have another problem at hand. They don’t mind arresting the Suresh Sankhyan, but they don’t know what provision of the law they can do so under! The Supreme Court said in 2001 that principals will be held responsible for not being able to curb ragging, but in 2009 the Himachal Pradesh police don’t know under what provision they can arrest former principal Sankhyan. This is a classic example of how Public Interest Litigation is not, is NOT, a substitute for legislation, notification of laws and setting up a due legal procedure from the police station upwards. That’s not at all a fault of the courts though – why doesn’t Himachal Pradesh have an anti-ragging law? Actually, it did pass an ordinance in 1992 and has elapsed since no one bothered to pass it as a law. The ordinance had a provision against principals and wardens who do not curb ragging: jail for six months. If only this ordinance had back then been made into a law, Sankhyan could have been arrested and a strong message sent out to obstinate Principal types across the country whose wont it is to think that they are the law.

That is the story of anti-ragging legislation at the Himachal Pradesh level. At the central level, a hitherto unreported fact has emerged, which is that the Supreme Court of India did ask, orally, the central government to pass an anti-ragging law in the ongoing suo moto PIL. This was reported yesterday in the Indian Express by Manish Chibber:

…the Union Human Resource Development Ministry has never shown eagerness to come up with a law at the national level.

The Home Ministry too didn’t act on a suggestion of the Supreme Court which, in May 2007, wanted a section to be added to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), making ragging a punishable offence…

…a bench of the apex court had said that apart from ragging, abetment to ragging, criminal conspiracy to rag, causing injury, wrongful confinement, use of force, assault as well as sexual offences should also be included in such a section of the IPC. It also wanted the burden of proof in ragging cases to lie on the accused — not the victim.

[…]

Sources in the Home Ministry said that “preliminary discussions” were held on an anti-ragging law after the apex court ruling but “nothing concrete” followed as senior Ministry officials felt that the Supreme Court guidelines were “adequate in dealing with the problem.” The issue was also discussed with state governments to elicit views and to push them to bring about their own anti-ragging laws. Other than a few states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal, most don’t have anti-ragging laws. [Link]

So we have a bizarre situation where the Supreme Court wants the Government to to amend the IPC to make ragging an offence, but the Government feels the Supreme Court orders are enough. Will these lazy bureaucrats please hang their heads in shame?

And not just in the home and HRD ministries but also in the states. The RK Raghavan committee mentions in its report that while seven states have so far passed anti-ragging laws, only two, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have notified them. In other words, Maharashtra, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Chhattisgarh have not even cared to notify their laws, so they remain pieces of paper. This is the height of bureaucratic indifference. So many bureaucrats, so many governments, have been this efficient.

The committee report also notes, “In terms of the purpose of the various State laws, we find that other than the Chhattisgarh Act, no other State legislation is intended to prevent ragging – the others only seek to prohibit.” See pages 21 and 22 of the report, as well as the tabulur analysis of the seven state laws in pages 182-183 (2 MB .pdf file here).

We need an all-India anti-ragging law. The Parliament of India has to pass it. NOW.

*

There’s a candlelight vigil, be there or elsewhere:

Location: Jantar Mantar, Delhi
Time: 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Date: Satarday, 14th March

13 thoughts on “And then Suresh Sankhyan wanted to do the post-mortem”

  1. Why ? Why cannot the Kangra police use the reported statement of the Health Minister Bindal that on 6th March, that he asked the principal to check ragging to lodge an FIR with gross negligence leading to death – citing Section 304 IPC ? That was the section under which the students were first booked. Now that the students are bumped up to Section 302, the principal can take the lesser charge.

    Anyways, an arrest based on an FIR is just that. The chargesheet comes later. There is nothing in principle against case law doing the task of setting precedents in interpreting the IPC. There is a long albeit controversial history of using section 304 for gross medical negligence.

    As a matter of fact, special laws for dealing with offences like this have had very limited success in the past. What is the track record of laws like Atrocities against SC & ST, Dowry death laws and so on?

    I dont mean to make a case against such laws, but just to say that this is absence of a special antiragging law is not such a big deal if the police really want to arrest the principal.

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  2. THE HRD ministry, human rights commission, UPA govt are spineless selfish institutions who want power with no responsibility. Everyone knows that
    head of instutions and colleges are run by political rich people enjoying power and so they do not want to roll the blame game on themselves and leave the innocent fresher at the mercy of rowdy senior and college adminstration trying to save its face leaving the ragging victims
    in a hopeless position.

    When the anti ragging law is spineless why give false idea to newcomers that they are protected?
    they write complaints and end up doing suicide or abused.

    This false propaganda that they are protected should be no more otherwise more freshers like
    Aman Kachroo will be killed.

    The govt should first enact the law like child abuse or women abuse law . Such a serious matter which involves future generation should not be let on GUIDELINESS of Supreme court How IPC be a state matter to be passed by state govt only show the nonserious attitude of the centre when ragging is a crime,How many more deaths does the govt need to think of students than political bigwigs running the educational instutions. Raghavan commitee recomndations to
    derecognise ,close , aid stopped where ragging is reported will stop the menace but why PMO office
    will sio weak not to implement it in spirit

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  3. The photo is a painful reminder that Aman just did not deserve all this …
    He has striking similarities to Amit Sahai who ‘committed suicide’ ( I have serious doubts over this …) after being brutally ragged. He left a suicide note naming nine seniors. At that time a lot of hue and cry was raised over the incident. But gradually the issue was relegated to backburner.
    Lets not let it happen anymore ….
    I have a film on ragging produced by PSBT. Please do let me know if it will be of any use … to keep the fire alive.
    m’

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  4. It’s a SHAME. It is really a grt loss.Read the news on 11th.What do we get of this? brief period of chaos and a few useless changes here and there. then? media turn to other interesting news. BUT PLZ
    A systematic campaign should be taken out, to totally eradicate this practice of Ragging. The college authorities and the administrators should not show any tolerance for any kind of ragging.

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  5. it is a shame that we literate lot of the society get indulged in such henious activities.being a part of the same college where aman studied, i know what it is like to be in that part of the world.trust me it is exactly the same everywhere and no court has delivered a judgement which can shake the whole country,something like a death sentence or a life imprisonment.once the highest institution of law passes such a judgement this will stop.i hope asky rests in peace.and up there he is haoppy seeing all the efforts his parents and friends are making.love you amann

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  6. http://www.indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&issueid=96&task=view&id=32013&sectionid=4&Itemid=1

    The police are probing if Dr Abhinav Verma, the main accused, and three other students who ragged Amann Kachroo so mercilessly that it led to his death were shielded by the principal of Dr Rajender Prasad Medical College, where the incident took place.

    Abhinav’s father is close to the medical college’s principal, Dr Suresh Sankhyan who resigned after the incident. The father, Dr D. K. Verma, is an assistant professor at the Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla.

    The police believe Dr Sankhyan tried to hush up a ragging incident last year in which Abhinav and his friends was involved.

    The four students — Ajay Verma, Naveen Verma and Mukul Sharma apart from Abhinav — were suspended for just two days in that incident. The case is still pending in a Kangra court.

    In that episode, 23 students had managed to escape the hostel in September 2008, spent a night on a riverbank and reported the matter to the police the next day.

    The police believe the authorities may have tried to hush up the death of Amann as the police were informed 43 hours after the ragging episode. The police were called only after he died and the college initially tried to pass it off as suicide.

    Besides, Amann and other first- year students were being ragged by the accused for the past four months but the college took no action.

    Amann’s father cried foul. “I suspect Amann was murdered.

    The college administration is sheltering the accused. He was very tense since he joined the college.

    He phoned me 10 minutes before he died,” Dr Rajender Kachroo said from Gurgaon.

    Ask the father of Mr Abhinav Verma – Dr DK verma what does he think about his son- Abhivav Verma and how long can he shield him from the hands of law .His father is a doctor at Surgery Department,IGMC,Shimla.
    Phone No of Dr DK Verma : std code : 177 2621675 (Residence)
    http://www.igmcshimla.org/telephone.htm

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  7. Hello Dears,

    My heart goes out to each one of you who knew the child well enough and feel so cut up over this incident, think, that his murder was the plan for all others , innocent children , never to hear or see or have to face ragging ever again.

    This must bring about a full stop and it can happen only with the life imprisonment be given to the Bastards and Bitches who are educated and uncivilized to the core. Rich parents who do not bother about how their kids are doing in the colleges knowing fully well their money and power can see them through the gates of the universities and colleges too.

    Bring these parents of those culprits to the court and do not spare them, they are equally responsible for the ill grooming of their children .
    They have played a silent part in making them criminals and must be made to serve a term in jail so that other parents will tell their children never to dream of even attempting to rag any one, not even their domestic helps kids at home or a poor soul on the road side too.

    Punish the Principal and the senior staff who are fully aware of all the shit that goes on inside the college camps, and for the boarders its horror and sorrow combined.

    May the sould of all departed due to ragging rest in peace amen. May the families of all these innocent victims be given the courage and strength to stand united and fight this evil and wicked act of Ragging . It is a criminal offence in Chennai- from 1992, as Loyola College banned 31 of the third year students then for ragging many of the first year students of which my eldest son was a two hour old on the college grounds and was lead out by these gangsters, bastards right under the senior professors nose and the dean of the student affairs was well aware of what was going on that fucken day.

    I use these words as I have no feelings at all, after what did happen, my son would have turned out to be a No: 1 Tennes World Champion had these bastards not ragged him the very second hour of joining the college that day.

    Excuse the language as I am an Anglo and this is my Lingo: for bastards and bitches who are evil and wicked in this scrrewed up world today.

    Barbara.
    Freelance Social Worker.(UAE)

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  8. Dear Anant: Thanks for your thought-provoking comment. I think the fact that the police is not imaginative enough to put existing IPC provisions to use is precisely the reason why we need an anti-ragging law. Everything that happens by way of ragging is already covered in IPC. Wrongful confinement? Criminal intimidation? Injury? There are freshers who have approached the police and have had the policemen laugh at them. That’s, sadly, why we need special laws.

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  9. i do agree that even amans,s own friends who were the part of this torture will avoid to give any statement on this issue i support and respect their viewpoint as this college will make their rest of the years in the college like a hell.

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  10. “”Excuse the language as I am an Anglo and this is my Lingo: for bastards and bitches who are evil and wicked in this scrrewed up world today.””

    @ Barbara – why are u generalizing AI’s here if that is your lingo then so be it.. why do u have to drag the entire AI community… You are a disgrace to AI’s

    Like

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