Saturday, July 27, 2019

POCSO (Amendment) Bill 2019, Supreme Court orders to set up special courts for child abuse cases

What is POCSO (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has amended the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (AmendmentBill2019 to provide stringent punishment to those who sexually abuse children. The guilty have provision of 20 years to life imprisonment and up to the death penalty. The court will have to decide. The law has been made gender neutral so as to protect not only girls but also children from sexual harassment.

Key Points

  • Minimum punishment for 'penetrative sexual assault' increased from 7 years to 10 years.
  • If a person penetrative sexual assault a child below the age of 16, he or she will be imprisoned for more than 20 years, with fines.
  • Minimum punishment for 'aggravated penetrative sexual assault' increased from ten years to 20 years. Maximum punishment for the same is the death penalty. 
  • Imprisonment up to 5 years and a fine for those using a child for pornographic purposes.
  • Imprisonment up to seven years and fine in the event of a subsequent conviction.

Supreme Court orders to set up special courts for child abuse cases 

The Supreme Court directed the Centre Government to set up a Special POCSO Court within 60 days in a district where more than 100 cases are pending under the Child Rape and POCSO Act. The Supreme Court has ordered to speed up the process of hearings and verdicts in child rape cases.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi Bench said that to complete the investigation process, the Forensic Lab will be made in every district.

During hearing, the court commented, "The collection of data on rape of children across the country and the implementation of the POCSO Act will be delayed. Until then, the investigation of the cases should be expedited.

Describing the rising crime against children as alarming, the Supreme Court had asked the court advisor V. Giri to submit a report.

Advisor suggested to the court

  • Sex education should be included in the school course. So that the children can know if something is happening wrong with them.
  • The Service of child helpline should available in every school and public place.
  • There should be one or two staff at the school to educate children, so that they can telling to the wrong things that happened to themselves.
  • If the child makes a complaint at school, the parents should be informed immediately and filed FIR. Then the Child Welfare Committee and the Special Court should informed.
  • The victim should be given medical care immediately. Mental and psychological support should be provided.Forensic labs should be set up in all the districts to check samples.
  • Special Juvenile Police Units should formed in every district. People in the unit should be sensitized so that the case can be investigated properly.
  • In the POCSO case, when the court takes cognisance, the child must testify within 30 days. Trial should be completed in a year.
  • It is important for witnesses to have a witness room, which is near by the Special Court. At the time of the statement, it should be ensured that the accused does not come in front of the child.