The Union cabinet on Saturday cleared the ordinance on POCSO act whereby death penalty will be given to those convicted of raping a child up to 12 years of age. Centre has cleared the criminal law amendment ordinance and POCSO Act is a part of this amendment. Death penalty to the child rapist took a centre stage after two separate cases gang rapes took place in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao, leading to massive outrage across the country.The Centre has increased minimum punishment in case of rape of women from 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. It said that in case of gang rape of a girl below 12 years, punishment will be life imprisonment or death sentence.
What is POCSO Act? Here is all you need to know:
POCSO or The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 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, in the same year.
The Act defines different forms of sexual abuse which includes penetrative and non-penetrative assault. It also involves sexual harassment, pornography, etc. Under certain specific circumstances POCSO states a sexual assault is to be considered “aggravated if the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a member of the armed forces or security forces or a public servant or a person in a position of trust or authority of the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor or a person-management or staff of a hospital — whether Government or private.”
The Act also makes it mandatory to report such cases. It makes it the legal duty of a person aware of the offence to report the sexual abuse. In case he fails to do so, the person can be punished with six months’ imprisonment or fine. The Act further states that the evidence of the child should be recorded within a period of thirty days. The Special Court taking cognizance of the matter should be able to complete the trial within the period of one year from the date of taking cognizance of the abuse. It provides that the Special Court proceedings should be recorded in camera and the trial should take place in the presence of parents r any other person in whom the child has trust or confidence.
The Act provides for punishment against false complaints or untrue information. It describes strict action against the offender according to the gravity of the offence. It prescribes rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine as punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault. It also prescribes punishment to the people who traffic children for sexual purposes.