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Most of you might have heard about the act called the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act or rather it has been abbreviated as POCSO Act. The act has captured wide attention when a POCSO case has occurred. The act seems to be more and more stringent and relating to an offence of high gravity. The original act was enacted in 2012. Later it was amended in 2019 as the POCSO Amendment Act 2019. In a short span of 7 years of time what would be the considerable changes brought in the act. In UPSC and other competitive exam preparation perspective, the POCSO Amendment act of 2019 is very much important and notes are inevitable for the preparation. Let us check out important notes regarding the POCSO Amendment Act 2019.
Why POCSO Act
This is the fundamental question that needs to be addressed while we prepare for the notes about the POCSO Amendment Act 2019. The act is specific penal law which try to give special attention towards the children from the sexual offences against them. Normally the sexual offences has been criminalised through the Indian Penal Code through the chapter of offences again the human body. When we try to implement these laws in case of children it will cause the following difficulties:
- The children cannot be compared to that of an adult to give testimony and cooperate with the legal procedures.
- Most of the time they cannot differentiate the sexual assault and atrocities against them.
- Their future should be guaranteed and they should not be victimised
- The crime should have a great gravity of consideration before the law
- Speedy trial and stringent mode of conviction should be given as a deterrent measure.
- Special courts for speedy disposal should be established
Considering all these factors, a special penal law to protect the interest of the children is needed. To protect them from sexual offences the act called Protection of Children from Sexual Offences has been enacted in 2012. The act has been brought to considerable change in 2019 by the POCSO Amendment Act 2019.
Significance of POCSO Amendment Act 2019
The POCSO Amendment Act of 2019 has been enacted with considerable changes. The changes has been classified into three categories:
- Punishment enhancement for Pornographic Purposes
- Including and redefining the term ‘Aggravated to the existing”
Punishment Enhancement of Pornographic Purposes
The punishment enhancement brought by the new amendment act has been classified and compared as below:
|Offence||POCSO Act 2012||POCSO Act 2019|
|Use of child for pornographic purposes||· Maximum: 5 years||· Minimum: 5 years|
|Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in penetrative sexual assault||· Minimum: 10 years
· Maximum: life imprisonment
|· Minimum: 10 years (in case of child below 16 years: 20 years)
· Maximum: life imprisonment
|Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in aggravated penetrative sexual assault||· Life imprisonment||· Minimum: 20 years
· Maximum: life imprisonment, or death
|Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in sexual assault||· Minimum: Six years
· Maximum: Eight years
|· Minimum: Three years Maximum: Five years|
|Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in aggravated sexual assault||· Minimum: Eight years
· Maximum: 10 years
|· Minimum: Five years
· Maximum: Seven years
Redefining the Term Aggravated to the Offences
The new amendment includes the term aggravated to the existing offences to define what is the aggravated form of the offence and what is the punishment for the same. It increases the gravity of the offences and thereby the punishment of the same. The aggravated has been added to the two existing offences namely:
- Penetrative Sexual Assault
- Sexual Assault
Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault
Penetrative sexual assault means if he: (i) penetrates his penis into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a child, or (ii) makes a child do the same, or (iii) inserts any other object into the child’s body, or (iv) applies his mouth to a child’s body parts. The aggravated penetrative sexual assault means when a police officer, a member of the armed forces, or a public servant commits penetrative sexual assault on a child. It also covers cases where the offender is a relative of the child, or if the assault injures the sexual organs of the child or the child becomes pregnant, among others. The Bill adds two more grounds to the definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault. These include: (i) assault resulting in death of a child, and (ii) assault committed during a natural calamity, or in any similar situations of violence. Currently, the punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault is imprisonment between 10 years to life, and a fine. The Bill increases the minimum punishment from ten years to 20 years, and the maximum punishment to death penalty. The normal penetrative sexual assault punishment has also been increased to imprisonment between 20 years to life, with a fine.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Under the Act, “sexual assault” includes actions where a person touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of a child with sexual intent without penetration. “Aggravated sexual assault” includes cases where the offender is a relative of the child, or if the assault injures the sexual organs of the child, among others. The Bill adds two more offences to the definition of aggravated sexual assault. These include: (i) assault committed during a natural calamity, and (ii) administrating or help in administering any hormone or any chemical substance, to a child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.
Understanding the provisions of POCSO act is not just enough to mitigate the offences against the children. We need to equip our children with sexual knowledge also. They should be equipped to know which is good touch and bad touch. To know the rights and safeguards of a child is an important factor in safeguarding those rights. In most of the POCSO cases due to the failure of the child to distinguish the act of the offender causes him to escape from the penal liability. So it’s important to teach our children about the offences and make them equipped to say a NO. For every competitive exam aspirant, the amendment changes are a pool of resources to study as it is some favourite area of the question preparators. Keep studying, Keep winning.