A parliamentary panel comprising of MPs from Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha made an observation that stated, minor sexual offenders may be prone to conduct more heinous crimes if left uncounseled.
Noting an increase in cases filed under POCSO Act where the age of the accused was under 18 years, the committee has submitted a report ‘Atrocities Against Women and Children’ which suggests amending the POCSO Act to reduce the current threshold of punishable age from 18 years to 16 years.
The committee, led by Congress MP Anand Sharma, has stated that it is very important to relook at the provisions of the POCSO Act because the number of juveniles involved in sexual crimes are increasing rapidly.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs stated that more and more juveniles are getting involved in such crimes. The latest government data reveals that there has been an 18% increase in cases registered under the POCSO Act from 2018 to 2019.
As per the current provisions of the POCSO Act, accused above 16 years of age only face trial if the crime committed is heinous in nature, like violent rape or murder. The committee suggested that the Home Ministry should take it up with the Ministry of WCD to check if the age limit of 18 years can be reduced to 16 years for the general applicability of POCSO Act.
The panel also raised concern over non registration of crime cases against women and children, citing it as the main reason for delay or denial of justice to the victim and their families. To encourage registration of crimes, the committee recommends developing and promoting online registration of FIR under various categories, particularly for crimes against women and children.
The panel also recommended taking strict action against police personnel and complainant filing false cases of crime against women and children and suggested that laws should be amended to tackle the menace. The committee said, “those individuals who register false cases must not go scot-free.”