The POCSO Amendment Bill 2019 (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) was introduced in Rajya Sabha on July 18, 2019. It amends the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. which seeks to protect children from offences such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.
Key Highlights of the POCSO AMENDMENT BILL 2019
Penetrative sexual assault
- Under the Act, a person commits “penetrative sexual assault” if he :
- Penetrates his penis into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a child, or
- Makes a child do the same, or
- Inserts any other object into the child’s body, or
- Applies his mouth to a child’s body parts.
- The punishment for such offence is imprisonment between 7 years to life, and a fine.
- The Bill increases the minimum punishment from 7 years to 10 years.
- It also adds that if a person commits penetrative sexual assault on a child who is below the age of 16 years, then, he will be punishable with imprisonment between 20 years to life, with a fine.
Aggravated penetrative sexual assault
- According to the Act “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” include cases 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. These are :
- Assault resulting in death of child,
- 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.
Aggravated sexual assault
- According to the Act, “sexual assault” includes actions where a person touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of a child with sexual intent without penetration.
- It 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 :
- Assault committed during a natural calamity.
- Administrating or help in administering any hormone or any chemical substance, to a child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.
- As per the Act, a person is guilty of using a child for pornographic purposes if he uses a child in any form of media for the purpose of sexual gratification.
- It also penalises persons who use children for pornographic purposes resulting in sexual assault.
- 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.
- Also, it enhances the punishments for certain offences as below :
- Use of child for pornographic purposes.
- Maximum 5 years (POCSO Act, 2012)
- Minimum 5 years (Bill 2019)
- Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in penetrative sexual assault.
- Minimum 10 years and Maximum life imprisonment (POCSO Act, 2012)
- Minimum 10 years and in case of child below 16 years is 20 years with a maximum of life imprisonment. (Bill 2019)
- Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in aggravated penetrative sexual assault.
- Life imprisonment (POCSO Act, 2012).
- Minimum 20 years and Maximum life imprisonment or death. (Bill 2019)
- Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in sexual assault.
- Minimum 6 years and Maximum 8 years (POCSO Act, 2012).
- Minimum 3 years and Maximum 5 years (Bill 2019).
- Use of child for pornographic purposes resulting in aggravated sexual assault.
- Minimum 8 years and Maximum 10 years (POCSO Act, 2012).
- Minimum 5 years and Maximum 7 years (Bill 2019).
- Use of child for pornographic purposes.
READ MORE: CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE MATERIAL (CSAM)
Storage of pornographic material
- Storage of pornographic material for commercial purposes is penalized under the Act with a punishment of up to 3 years, or a fine, or both.
- The Bill amends this to provide that the punishment can be imprisonment between 3-5 years, or a fine, or both.
- Also, the Bill adds two other offences for storage of pornographic material involving children. These include :
- Failing to destroy, or delete, or report pornographic material involving a child.
- Transmitting, displaying, distributing such material except for the purpose of reporting it.