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POCSO Act: Assault on boys punishable by death

Section 9 of the POCSO Act has been made more stringent, according to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (Image for representational purpose only.)

Section 9 of the POCSO Act has been made more stringent, according to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (Image for representational purpose only.)

The government on Friday approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to bring punishments for sexual assaults on boys on a par with those against girls. These include the provision of death penalty when the child is under 12 years and when a penetrative sexual assault is committed by a relative.

The amendments approved by the Union Cabinet will now have to be passed by Parliament. An official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development said the government intends to introduce the amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The move will ensure that the Bill, once introduced even if not passed, will not lapse when the term of the present government comes to an end and the Lok Sabha is dissolved.

Kathua rape case

Following the outrage over the gang rape of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the government had brought an ordinance in April and followed it by passing a Bill in Parliament during the monsoon session to amend the Indian Penal Code. The changes included death penalty for gang rape of a girl under 12 years and 20 years in jail or death penalty for rape of a girl under 16 years.

Provisions were also added to provide imprisonment for the rest of one’s natural life for gang rape of a girl under 16 years, while rape of a girl in the same age bracket would be punishable with jail of minimum 20 years upto life imprisonment.

Anomalies set right

However, the absence of these changes to POCSO Act , 2012, which deals with sexual crimes against both girls and boys, meant that same offences committed against boys carried lighter punishments. Friday’s changes will address these anomalies.

The Union Cabinet approved changes to Section 6 of the POCSO Act, which deals with punishments for aggravated penetrative sexual assault, enhancing the punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment and 20 years to imprisonment for remainder of a person’s natural life or with death.

This category of offence includes assault on a child under the age of 12 years, gang rape, assault on a mentally or physically challenged child or one that is committed by a relative or a custodian of a child. According to National Crime Record Bureau data as many as 94.6% of total crimes under the POCSO Act as well as Section 376 are committed either by relatives or acquaintances.

The government has also amended the definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault to include an offence that causes the death of a child. The minimum punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been increased from seven years in jail to 10 years.


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Printable version | Jul 7, 2022 12:15:04 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-approves-amendments-to-pocso-act/article25850988.ece