Cabinet Strengthens POCSO Act, Changes Include Death Penalty For Aggravated Sexual Assault
Union Cabinet on December 28 approved significant changes to the child abuse law, POCSO including the death penalty for aggravated sexual assault against children under 12 years and more stringent punishments for sexual crimes against those below 18 years of age. The amendments introduced will also ensure that punishment for sexual assault against boys is brought on par with girls.
As per The Hindu, an official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development said that the government will introduce the amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha. This move will ensure that even if the Bill is not passed, it will not lapse when the term of the present government ends and Lok Sabha is dissolved.
Announcing the amendments on Friday, Law Minister said “This is a very wholesome initiative by the Union Government. The government has brought about a far-reaching amendment in the POSCO Act. Our aim is to prevent children from falling victim to sexual aggression”, reported NDTV
Other major changes are-
- Various measures to curb “proliferation of child pornography”, which include a fine for not “deleting, destroying child pornographic material or reporting child pornography”. Mr Prasad said, “ Anybody found circulating such material for commercial or other purposes will also face stringent punishment”.
- Section 9 of the POSCO Act has been amended to punish those who administer hormones or chemical substances to children to artificially induce sexual maturity, reported The Times of India.
The POCSO (Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences) Act was passed in 2012 to provide a legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well-being of children. The act included mechanisms such as child-friendly reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through Special Courts.
However, recently many child abuse cases such as Kathua rape case and child abuse cases in Muzaffarpur Shelter Home in Bihar have led to the demands that the laws be made more stringent to deter offenders. Several states such as Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan have already approved the death penalty for rape of children below 12 years of age.