Amendments OK’d in POCSO Act
To combat rising cases of child sex abuse, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to strengthen the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 which would now have death penalty for aggravated penetrative sexual assault against children.
To curb child pornography, the amendment levies heavy fine for not deleting and destroying child pornographic material. Not reporting child pornography will also invite a hefty fine. The Government has claimed that this move will not only discourage the trend of child abuse but will also protect the interest of vulnerable minors in times of distress.
Brought in 2012, the POCSO has been modified earlier too to make it as foolproof as possible.
Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union Environment and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the amendment in the POCSO Act will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty. The modification in the law will address the need for stringent measures against rising trend of child sex abuse and combat the menace of relatively new kind of crimes, the Government said, stressing that the strong penal provisions will act as a deterrent.
“It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity. The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof,” the Government release said.
The Act defines child as any person below the age of 18 years. It is a gender-neutral legislation, it said.
The Government, in a statement, said the amendments in Section 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 14, 15, 34,42 and 45 of the POCSO Act, 2012 are being made to address the aspects of child sexual abuse in an appropriate manner.
“Section 4, 5 and 6 are proposed to be amended to provide option of stringent punishment, including death penalty, for committing sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault crime on a child to protect the children from sexual abuse,” it said.
The amendments are also proposed in Section 9 to protect children from sexual offences in times of natural calamities and other similar situations and in cases where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault, the statement said.
“Section 14 and Section 15 of the POCSO Act, 2012 are also proposed to be amended to address the menace of child pornography. It is proposed to levy fine for not destroying or deleting or reporting the pornographic material involving a child with an intention to share or transmit it,” the Government said.
Over the past few years, India has received ongoing media attention for incidents of brutal rape and gender-based violence. India topped the list as the most dangerous country for women in a June survey published by Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019. The Bill will be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament. “The Bill provides a mechanism for their social, economic and educational empowerment. The Bill will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma, discrimination and abuse against this marginalised section and bring them into the mainstream of society,” an official statement said.