An anti-ragging ordinance of the Himachal Pradesh government, promulgated in the wake of the killing of a medical student, has come into effect after the governor signed it.
"Governor Prabha Rau has signed the ordinance introduced by the cabinet for imposing a total ban on ragging within or outside the premises of educational institutions," Health Minister Rajeev Bindal told IANS Thursday.
"The ordinance will be replaced by an act during the monsoon session of the vidhan sabha (state assembly)," he said.
The new ordinance replaces one that is 17 years old. "The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government could not bring legislation in 1992 as it was dismissed following the imposition of president's rule in the state," Bindal said.
"Since 1992, none of the four successive governments bothered to replace the ordinance by an act."
The new anti-ragging ordinance comes weeks after Aman Kachru, a first-year student of the Rajendra Prasad Medical College at Tanda town, died after he was beaten up in the name of ragging, allegedly by four final-year students.
The new law makes ragging a cognisable, non-bailable offence compoundable with the permission of the court. Any student convicted of an offence will be punished with imprisonment upto three years or fine of upto Rs.50,000 or both.
The offender will be expelled from the institution and will not be eligible for admission in any other institution for a period of three years.
The ordinance says that whenever a complaint of ragging is made in writing to the head of the educational institution, he will be required to conduct an inquiry within 24 hours and also inform the higher authorities.
Failure on the part of the institution to initiate disciplinary actions or deliberate delay in lodging a report with the police will attract imprisonment up to one year or fine up to Rs.10,000 or both.