Provisions of the newly-enacted Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which came into effect from November 14, would be applied for the first time in the Capital on a direction to the Delhi Police by the Lajpat Nagar Child Welfare Committee to invoke relevant sections of the special law against a man accused of having raped a one-year-old girl in South Delhi. The law has been formulated to address the issue of sexual offences against children.

The girl was recently raped by a neighbour, who was subsequently arrested after her mother lodged a complaint with the police. The accused is at present in judicial custody.

While the police had registered a case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, during a hearing on December 3 the CWC directed them to include relevant provisions of the newly-enacted law. Earlier the police had registered such cases under the Indian Penal Code that does not distinguish between minor and adult victims.

The law, that provides for stringent punishments, recognises any person below 18 years of age as a child and also categorises offences under various heads including sexual assault, harassment and pornography. For penetrative sexual assault (that has been defined extensively), it prescribes imprisonment of not less than seven years that may extend to life. In case of aggravated penetrative sexual assault (by a person in position of authority), it provides for imprisonment for not less than 10 years extending to life.

The Act prescribes an elaborate procedure to be followed by the police for registering a case and recording statements of victims, besides making a provision for special courts.

The statement has to be recorded at the victim’s residence or place of choice, preferably by a woman police officer in plainclothes.

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