Govt nod to amend POCSO Act for death penalty

Govt nod to amend POCSO Act for death penalty

Briefing reporters, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said children should be protected from sexual offences and the Cabinet has approved amendments to various sections of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. (PTI File Photo)

The Centre has approved a proposal to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 for handing down death penalty to those convicted of committing “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” on a child.

Union Cabinet gave its nod to the proposed amendments in the POCSO Act here at its meeting on Friday to make the punishment for sexual crimes against children “more stringent.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the Cabinet's meeting.

The POCSO Act, which is gender neutral, defines a child as any person below 18 years of age.

“To discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent Section-4, Section-5 and Section-6 are proposed to be amended to provide the option of stringent punishment, including death penalty, for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child to protect the children from sexual abuse,” the government said in a statement after the Cabinet meeting.

The amendments in the Sections 4, 5, 6, 9, 14, 15 and 42 of the POCSO Act have been proposed to be brought in to address various “aspects” of child sexual abuse “in appropriate manner.”

“The modifications (in the Act) are made to address the need for stringent measures required to deter the rising trend of child sex abuse in the country,” the government said.

The amendments proposed in Section-9 of the Act seek to protect children from sexual offences “in times of natural calamities and disasters” as well as in cases where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to make them attain “early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.”

“Section-14 and Section-15 of the POCSO Act are proposed to be amended to address the menace of the child pornography,” the government said.

Under the proposed amendments, a fine can be levied on person/persons concerned for not destroying/deleting/ reporting the pornographic material involving a child.

“The person can be further penalised with a jail term or fine, or both, for transmitting, propagating, administrating such material in any manner except for the purpose of reporting as may be prescribed, and for use as evidence in court,” the government said.

The penal provisions have been made more stringent for storing/possessing any pornographic material in any form involving a child for commercial purpose, it added.

"This is a wholesome initiative, whereby the entire POCSO architecture is not only strengthened but also enlarged, so that artificial medicines or hormones could not be abused to kill the childliness of a child. An unfortunate thing was going on in the country that children were being administered hormones to make them artificially major," Union Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad told reporters.

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