PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AGAINST SEXUAL OFFENCE

AMENDMENT OF POCSO ACT,2012

The word POCSO means Protection Of Children against Sexual Offences. This act came into existence in 2012. In India, the children are the victims against sexual offences, sexual assaults and exposure to pornographic contents. The small children who are below the age of 18 years are being used as a sexual material. To curb this offence the Government of India came out with a law known as The POCSO Act . As this Act came into existence in 2012, it is commonly known as The POCSO Act,2012. Recently in the year 2019, this act was amended and it is known as The POCSO Act 2019. Today I will be discussing about some key amendments of this Act.

The children in India are most often brutally assaulted. They are raped, sexually exploited and being used for pornographic purposes. Child pornography is a violent crime occurring in the recent times. Little children are being used as a porno material. These people destroys the little innocent world of the children. Some people are so much brutal that they even rape a 11 day old baby! The violation of the rights of the children were at the peak level. But no laws were specially made for the protection of the children. In 2012 , Finally the POCSO Act came where the rights of the children had been secured and been saved from any time of violence against them. The act incorporates child friendly procedures on reporting, recording, investigation and trial offences. The act provides for stringent punishments which have been graded as per gravity of the offence. Section 44 of this act empowers the NCPCR and State commission for protection of child rights for monitoring the implementation of the provisions of this act in such manner as may be prescribed. Special courts have been setup for hearing of this cases. This setting has been done so that the victim children gets a speedy justice. Furthermore there are some changes that are made in this act in the year 2019. The punishment for use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in penetrative sexual assault has been cut down from life imprisonment to minimum of 20 years of imprisonment and maximum of life imprisonment. Also punishment for use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in sexual assault has been taken down from minimum 6 years and maximum 8 years to a minimum of 3 years and maximum of 5 years of imprisonment. If the victim child has faced a heinous crime then the maximum punishment could be a death penalty. The recent amendment has brought a boost in the justice against the victim. Earlier among 1 lac cases the justice was given to 10,000 cases . Keeping this view in mind the POCSO act of 2012 is amended. The amendment act aims at making the offences against the children gender neutral. That means whether the victim is a boy or a girl, he/she must be given justice in an equal manner. The amendment act has extended the definition of ‘sexual assault’. The application of hormones on the body of the child for attaining sexual maturity and thereafter using that child for penetrative sexual activity is also considered as sexual assault . Biologically a girl attains her sexual maturity at the age between 10 to 14 years. But with the application of progesterone and oestrogen hormones the maturity can be brought before the stipulated time. By the application of that hormones ,her reproductive organs begins to mature thus turning her to be sexually mature. The one who is applying this hormones in the body of the child if proved that he/she has been doing it for exploiting the child for penetrative sexual activity, he/she will be also be convicted for sexual assault. The act also extended the definition of child pornography. The Act defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child including photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child. The amendments also penalize the transmitting of pornographic material to children and propose to synchronise it with the Information Technology Act. The amendment brings new punishment methods. According to the amendment act, those committing penetrative sexual assault on children below the age of 16 years are to be punished with the imprisonment of 20 years which can be extended to life imprisonment. In the aggravated sexual penetrative assault the minimum punishment would be 20 years of imprisonment extended to death penalty.

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The amendment bill has sanctioned thousand of fast track courts for speedy justice. So far, in Indian Penal Code there was no definition of child pornography. But this amended act clearly defines Child pornography. The amended law will also apply to pornographic content where adults or young adults pretending to be children. Thus clearly the POCSO Act of 2012 is amended in such a way that the new laws are very strict. In State v. Gaurav Jain , a little girl was standing in front of her house and an ice cream seller ,who regularly sells ice cream to her, came near her, unzipped his pants and told her to touch his genitals. This case is resulting to sexual assault and the ice cream seller was taken to custody. Police recorded her statement under section 162 and the ice cream seller was produced to court. This case is now under trial and has been speeded up after this amendment.

Thus, the amendment of POCSO Act 2012 was really helpful and essential as it made the laws more strict and extended many definitions. Thanks to honourable minister Mrs. Smriti Irani who has fought for the rights and safety of the children and made the amendment. So far, there had been no definition of child pornography in Indian law. It was a big lacuna which could be used to evade the law. But now there is no escape as this amendment clearly defines and describes every type of offences against children. This is how the amendment of POCSO Act, 2012 was necessary.

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Author: Sattwik Biswas,
IFIM Law School

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