A school principal in India has reportedly forced 13 pupils to hold their hands over a candle flame, in an attempt to find out whether one of them had stolen money from a classmate.

The teacher, Sushanti Hembrom, said she expected the guilty student would step forward out of fear but instead all the pupils did as they were told and placed their hands over the candle.

According to BBC Hindi, seven students sustained burns and a pupil, whose hands Hembrom reportedly forced over the flame, had to be admitted to hospital.

Following the incident, which happened on Wednesday (31 January) in a private school in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, Hembrom was suspended the following day after families of the pupils complained to the school.

The teacher has since admitted she made a "big mistake", before apologising to the pupils and their parents.

While corporal punishment is banned in schools across India, it remains common and often students are also forced to strip down as a punishment.

In November last year, at least 88 schoolgirls from north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh were forced to undress before classmates as punishment for allegedly writing obscene words about a head teacher.

The All Sagalee Students Union (ASSU) reported the incident to police after which a complaint was filed against two assistant teachers and a junior teacher.

The accused had reportedly shamed the girls following the recovery of a piece of paper containing objectionable words about the head teacher and a female student.

In 2017, 70 girls, all aged about 10, were told to remove their clothes in a school in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh to "check for menstrual blood".