The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) was passed in 2012 as it received the President’s assent on June 19, 2012, and was notified in the Gazette of India on June 20, in the year 2012, With the aim to protect children from sexual abuse offenses, sexual harassment and pornography and to provide a child-friendly platform for the trial of these offences.
This act Except for the State of Jammu and Kashmir extends to the whole of India.
According to the POSCO act, 2012, “child” means any person below the age of eighteen years and defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, etc.
As Act prescribes rigorous imprisonment according to the gravity of the offence which shall not be less than ten years and may be extend to imprisonment for life and also fine as punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault and also prescribes imprisonment for storage of pornographic material involving a child extending to three years or with fine or with both as punishment.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for the amendment of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Women and Child Development, Mr. Virendra Kumar on January 8, 2019.
Bill, which was already passed by the Rajya Sabha on 29th July 2019, was approved by Parliament, after it was passed by the Lok Sabha on 1st august 2019.
Major amendments –
- Penetrative sexual assault: The punishment for such offence present act is imprisonment for seven years to life imprisonment, and a fine. The Bill increases the minimum punishment from seven years to ten years and if a person commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below the age of 16 years, he will be punishable with imprisonment between twenty years to life imprisonment, along with a fine.
- Aggravated penetrative sexual assault: the term “aggravated penetrative sexual assault “include cases when a police officer or a member of the armed forces or a public servant commits penetrative sexual assault on a child.
The Bill adds two more grounds to the definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault that is assault resulting in the death of child, secondly assault committed during a natural calamity. The present punishment is imprisonment between ten years to life, and a fine. The Bill increases the minimum punishment from ten years to twenty years, and the maximum punishment to death penalty.
- Aggravated sexual assault: The Bill adds two more offences to the definition of aggravated sexual assault first as an assault committed during a natural calamity, and secondly administrating any chemical substance or hormone, to a child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.
- Storage of pornographic material: The Act penalizes storage of pornographic material for commercial purposes having present punishment of up to three years, or a fine, or both. This Bill amends now the punishment can be imprisonment between three to five years, or a fine, or both.
- The Bill adds two other offences for storage of pornographic material involving children. Firstly failing to destroy, or delete, or report pornographic material involving a child, secondly transmitting, propagating, or administering such material except for the purpose of reporting it.
- Pornographic purposes Bill enhances the punishments for certain offences such as
Use of child for pornographic purposes presently which is Maximum for 5 years after passing of bill it is Minimum for 5 years.
Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in aggravated penetrative sexual assault presently which is Life imprisonment after passing of bill it is minimum for twenty year and maximum for life imprisonment, or death.
Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in sexual assault presently which is Minimum for Six years and maximum for Eight years after passing of bill it is for minimum for Three years and maximum for Five years.
Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in aggravated sexual assault presently which is Minimum for Eight years and Maximum for ten years after passing of bill it is minimum for Five years and maximum for Seven years.