STATE TIMES NEWS New Delhi: A Bill entailing amendments to the POCSO Act by including death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children, besides providing stringent punishments for other crimes against minors, was introduced in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Moving the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said: “The amendments I move today are ensuring that those who rape our children, especially cases of gang rape, will be met by death”.
The proposed changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act also provide for fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.
The minister observed that many cases have come to light which show how children have become more vulnerable with evolving technology and therefore, one of the biggest amendments to the Bill is the definition of child pornography.
“Today, through this amendment we seek to define child pornography but we don’t limit it only to videos. The amendment through definition of child pornography expands it to visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor or a child which will include photographs, video, digital or photo generated images,” Irani said.
Elaborating on the provisions of the Bill, she said, it proposes that under Section 15, a fine of Rs 5,000 is introduced on the first occasion with regards to punishment for storage of pornographic material involving a child.
On the second occasion, a fine of Rs 10,000 is proposed for not reporting child pornographic material with an intention to share/transmit it, which can be extended to imprisonment if such material is transmitted, displayed, distributed or propagated, the minister informed.
“If such material is used for commercial purposes, then this amendment proposes to extend a minimum punishment by imprisonment for not less than 3 years which may extend to 5 years with fine or with both,” Irani said.
She highlighted that the amendments brought for the consideration of the House for the first time also elaborately seeks to penalise and punish those who persuade, induce, entice or coerce a child to be administered by a chemical substance so that the child attains early sexual maturity.
Irani said the amendment with regards to injection of hormones and chemical substances was also necessitated by the fact that some cases came to light related to implanting of birth control into the upper arm of children.
Depraved cases of the extent to which a human being can go to exploit a child have necessitated these amendments, she said.
“Today the amendments proposed under POCSO make this particular (Bill), and in consonance with the Criminal Law Amendment 2018, make this very case for penal action for those who commit a rape (of) a child under the age of 18 to be punished for 20 years which may extend to imprisonment for life,” Irani said.
The minister said she speaks for 39 per cent of India’s population with provisional data of the census saying that 47 crore of our citizens are aged upto 18 years.
The minister expressed hope that the guidance emanating from a productive discussion in the House on the proposed amendments strengthen the government’s resolve to provide more legal and administrative protection to the country’s children, “who are not vote banks but the foundation of a New India”.
To combat rising cases of child sex abuse, the Union Cabinet earlier this month approved amendments to strengthen the POCSO Act.
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