POCSO Act (Protection of children Against Sexual Offence Act) was introduced by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Virender Kumar on 2012 to protect children against sexual abuse , sexual harassment, pornography and also to provide punishments for crimes against those, who are below 18 years of age.
The POCSO Act came into force on. 14th of November, 2012, along with proper rules and regulations framed under it.
Children are becoming easy prey because of their tender age, physical vulnerabilities and inexperience of life and society. In the past years, Child sexual abusing cases demonstrating the inhuman mind-set of the abusers, who have been barbaric in their approach towards young victims, is rising in the country. Therefore there was a strong need to take stringent measures to deter the rising of child sex abuse in the country. This was the reason for approving the POCSO Amendment Act, 2019. In the year 2019, the POCSO Act was amended , which included fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.
Crimes like, Sexual harassment, child rape, child pornography are some of the violent crimes of recent times. A six months old baby is being raped brutally. These people are not only doing a crime but also destroying and ruining an innocent world of a child. Decade ago, there were no such laws to protect the child from sexual offence. In 2012 , finally the POCSO Act was introduced to protect children from offences and also to provide establishment of special court for trial of such offences. The Act, had different forms of sexual abuse which included Penetrative and non-penetrative assault and also provided punishment against false report and untrue information. It also prescribes punishment to people, who were involved in child trafficking. The Act also provides, stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence.
Section 44 of the POCSO Act 2012, empowers the NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child rights) and State commission for Protection of Child Rights for monitoring the implementation of the provision of the Act.
Some aspects in respect to this Act are,
i) Designation of special courts.
ii) Appointment of special public prosecutors.
iii) Setting up of Child Welfare Committee (CWCs), District Child Protection Unit (DCPUs) and also Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPUs).
In 2019, further changes were made in the Act. Most importantly , the bill enhanced punishment for sexual offence against children with provision of Death Penalty. According to the amendment, the bill provides that those who use the child for pornographic purpose, should be punished with imprisonment of five years and fine. Also in the event of subsequent conviction the punishment would be up to seven years. According to the amendment bill, if anyone commits penetrative sexual assaults on a child below 16years of age, would be punished with imprisonment up to 20years or it may extend to life imprisonment with fine as well. According to the bill, if a person commits aggravated penetrative sexual assault, the bill increases the minimum punishment of 10-20 years and maximum punishment to death penalty. Earlier, there were 100,000 cases, among which, justice was given only to 10,000 cases. Looking into this matter, the POCSO Act 2012 was Amended and the amendment brought number of provision to safeguard children from offences of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The main aim of the POCSO Act 2019 is, making offences against children Gender-Neutral , which means whether the victim is a boy or a girl, justice will be given in equal manner. Before, in the Indian Penal Code, there were no such definition of Child Pornography but the amendment of the Act is critical, because it clearly define child pornography and makes it punishable. The Act, defines Child Pornography as any visual depiction of sexual explicit conduct involvement of a child including photograph, video, digital or computer generated images, indistinguishable from actual child. The amendment also penalize the transfer of pornographic material to children. To curb child pornography, the Act also provides that those who use a child for pornographic purposes should be punished with imprisonment up to five years and fine. The Cabinet has also enhanced the fine for possessing child porn but not deleting or reporting it to Rupees 5,000 from the earlier proposal of Rupees 1,000. If a person stores such content for distributing it further, except for when presenting it in court as evidence, he could face a punishment of up to three years also there will be zero tolerance for child pornography. In addition to this, the police also plays an important role in the POCSO Act, in respect of crimes against Children. It brings Child-Friendly process of investigation and care and also child-friendly police stations where the police officers interact with children and aims at making the child feel comfortable and secure.. Therefore, there are many protocols to be followed during the process of investigation. Victims of POCSO cases who falls in the category of CNPC ( Children in Need for Protection and Care), are mandatorily brought before CWC (Children Welfare Committee) and also reports are made to CWC. There are many trial cases under POCSO, and has been speeded up after the amendment.
The amendment of the POCSO Act, 2012 was really necessary to curb sexual abuse of children. It was essential because the laws are now more strict and it has also extended many of the definitions with enhanced punishment leading to life time imprisonment and death penalty. The Act , now clearly defines every types of offences against Children. The amendment was needed and because of the Women and Child Development Minister , Smriti Irani this was possible. She introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha on 18th July ,2019 to amend the POCSO Act, which aimed at making punishment more stringent and even included death penalty for offenders. Honourable Minister Smriti Irani also said that, the government’s priority is to ensure, that justice is delivered to every child in the country. The Amendment of the POCSO act was necessary and helpful.
Author: Beas Sain,
IFIM Law School/ Law Student