On July 24, 2019, Rajya Sabha passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which provides for death penalty to the culprits in the cases of sexual assault and stringent punishments for other crimes against children. It provides for the levy of fines and imprisonment up to 5 years to curb child pornography. In the event of a second or subsequent conviction, the punishment would be up to seven years and fine.
- According to the amendment bill, those committing penetrative sexual assaults on a child below 16 years of age would be punished with imprisonment up to 20 years, which might extend to life imprisonment as well as fine.
- In case of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, the bill increases the minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years, and the maximum punishment to death penalty.
- The amendment in Section-2, Section-4, Section-5, Section-6, Section-9, Section-14, Section-15, Section-34, Section-42 and Section-45 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO)Act, 2012, is made to address the aspects of child sexual abuse in appropriate manner.
ii. Fast track courts: Union government has sanctioned 1023 fast track courts for speedy dispensation of pending cases under POCSO and sexual assault. The total expenditure in setting up these courts will be Rs 767 crore out of which Rs 474 crore will be borne by the Centre.
iii. Definition: The Bill defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child including photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child.
About POCSO Act 2012:
It was established to protect the children against offences like sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography. It was formed to provide a child-friendly system for trial underneath which the perpetrators could be punished. The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It also makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 received the President’s assent on June 19, 2012. It was notified in the Gazette of India on June 20, 2012.