The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday suspended Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and banned the practice of corporal (physical) punishment by parents, guardians and teachers on children.
The decision was announced after singer-activist Shehzad Roy filed a petition in court to ban the use of violence to discipline children. A division bench of the IHC presided by Chief Justice Athar Minallah, suspended the PPC section until further notice.
Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 (No XLV) allows parents, teachers and other guardians to use moderate and reasonable corporal punishment as a means to correct the behaviour of children below 12 years of age.
In his petition, Roy claimed that Section 89 is contradictory to the Constitution as it violates basic human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Punishing children is being considered as essential for improving learning. News of torture and punishment of children have been reported every day in the media” read the petition.
Justice Minallah, during the hearing, remarked that the country’s parliament had adopted a bill barring corporal punishment for children in 2013. The bill was not passed into law due to a technicality.
Roy’s lawyer maintained that his client wanted the High Court to prevent violence against children until relevant legislation is passed.
“Corporal punishment affects a child’s mental and physical health,” he asserted.
After hearing the arguments, Justice Minallah directed the interior ministry to take immediate steps to protect the rights of children and asked for a reply from the federal government on the matter by March 5.
Roy took to Twitter to express his gratitude over the IHC decision.
Earlier, while speaking to the media outside the Islamabad High Court, Roy had said, “When a child is born, parents hit him, when he goes to school, teachers hit him, when he grows older and goes out in the society, police hits him to make him a better person. Research shows that the use of violence only increases violence.”
Journalists, actors and members of the civil society lauded Roy for his initiative and hailed the court’s decision.