PM gets contempt notice in Visva Bharati row

The Calcutta High Court Friday issued a contempt notice against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is the chancellor of Visva Bharati University, and other officials in the incident where a class 5 student of a varsity school was asked to lick her urine as punishment for bed-wetting.

The direction was given by the bench of Chief Justice JN Patel and Justice Sambudha Chakraborty while hearing a public interest litigation which claimed that the Visva Bharati, by inflicting corporal punishment, has violated the court's earlier directive against the form of punishment.

'The court has asked me to serve contempt notice to the PM, who is the chancellor, as well as Vice Chancellor Sushanta Dutta Gupta, Registrar Mani Mukut Mitra, warden Uma Poddar and West Bengal Education Secretary Bikram Sen,' said Tapas Bhanja, who filed the PIL. The next hearing will be on 27 July.

The Calcutta High Court had banned any kind of corporal punishment in the schools in 2004. In 2009, the Court framed proper guidelines and said that students should be counselled instead of being given corporal punishment.

The incident occurred Saturday evening when Poddar, while on an inspection, pulled up the girl for bed-wetting. She allegedly then sprinkled salt on the urine and made the girl lick her urine as a punishment.

After the girl told her mother about the ordeal, her parents and several others stormed the hostel premises and allegedly manhandled Poddar.

Following the incident, the university set up a four-member fact-finding committee to probe the matter. Acting on the report, the university relieved Poddar of her duty as warden.

The incident has attracted severe criticism from all quarters and also reached the Prime Minister's Office [PMO]. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights [NCPCR] has sought detailed reports from the university and the state government.
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