In an effort to stop sexual crimes against children by providing stringent punishment for such offences, the Union Cabinet today approved certain amendments to the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The amendments include the death penalty as the maximum punishment for sexual assault against children as well as fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.
The Bill was introduced in the Parliament in January this year during the 16th Lok Sabha but had lapsed as the tenure of the Lok Sabha had come to an end. According to the government, stringent punishment for offences under the Act will act as a deterrent. “It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity. The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof”, the government said.
Amendments to sections 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 14, 15, 34, 42 and 45 of the POCSO Act have been given a go-ahead by the government. Amendment to sections 4, 5 and 6 are proposed to provide stringent punishment. This includes the death penalty for committing sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child.
The amendment proposed to section 9 of the Act seeks to provide protection to the children during natural calamities and other situations of similar nature. It also includes cases where hormones or any chemical substances are administered to children to induce early sexual maturity for penetrative sexual assault.
The amendments have also aimed to curb child pornography. Amendments to sections 14 and 15 of the Act propose to impose fines for not destroying or deleting or reporting the pornographic material involving a child with an intention to share or transmit it.