The Islamabad High Court on Thursday suspended till further notice section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) that allows for the use of corporal punishment by parents, guardians and teachers "in good faith for the benefit".
Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) will, however, remain suspended only in the Islamabad Capital Territory.
In its written order, the court noted that "corporal punishments are not in consonance with the constitutionally guaranteed right of inviolability of dignity notwithstanding section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860."
The court also directed the human rights ministry to submit a report on the "status of the compliance with the obligations of the State of Pakistan under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to the prohibition of corporal punishment". The IHC also instructed the federal government to "advise the Private Education Institutions Regulatory Authority to issue guidelines to the private schools" in light of the court's observations.
A petition in the IHC, submitted by singer and rights activist Shehzad Roy yesterday, called for a ban on use of violence as a means to discipline children in school.
In his petition, Roy argued that Section 89 of the PPC allows for use of violence and force against children.
"Last year, a child passed away because of the use of corporal punishment in a school in Lahore," Roy's lawyer told the court while adding that the matter of abolishing the use of corporal punishment was of public interest.
The lawyer, while explaining the reason for Roy's interest in the matter, said that the singer-turned-activist has established an organisation for educational reforms.
"The parliament also passed some bill on the matter as well," IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who was hearing the case, recalled.
"We want that the use of corporal punishment is banned while the parliament goes about making laws on the matter," the lawyer responded while adding that corporal punishment has extremely adverse effects on children's mental and physical health.
Hearing this, Justice Minallah suspended section 89 of the PPC which says: "Nothing which is done in good faith for the benefit of a person under twelve years of age [...] by or by consent of the guardian or other person having lawful charge of that person, is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause."
The court said that the interior ministry should safeguard the rights of children, while also asking for a reply on the matter from the federal government by March 5.
Speaking to the media outside Islamabad High Court, Roy 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. Contrarily, research shows that the use of violence only increases violence."
Later, taking to Twitter, he expressed his gratitude, saying: "I am grateful that the operation of brutal, inhuman & unconstitutional colonial-era law section 89 has been suspended/stopped by Chief Justice Athar Minallah on @ZindagiTrust petition in all the federal jurisdiction & Islamabad. Congrats to all my dear children of Islamabad & Pakistan."