The Act has been instrumental in providing a robust justice mechanism for the victims of sexual abuse and has highlighted the significance of child rights and safety. The reporting of cases of child sexual abuse has also surged as a consequence of awareness. The Act covers punishment for both non-penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault. A Victim of Child Sexual Abuse can file a complaint at any time irrespective of his/her present age.
The POCSO Amendment Bill provides for stringent punishments for other crimes against all those below 18 years of age. The POCSO Bill also aims at making offenses against children ‘gender neutral’.
The table given below will give you quick and brief information about the POCSO act.
|Enactment Date||June 19, 2012|
|Name in Short||The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012|
|Long Title||An Act to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.|
|Ministry||Ministry of Women and Child Development|
|Date of Enforcement||November 14, 2012|
Child sexual abuse laws in India have been enacted as part of the child protection policies of India. The Parliament of India passed the “Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill , 2011” regarding child sexual abuse on 22 May 2012, making it an act. With the intent to effectively address the evil of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act was passed by the parliament.
According to features of the POCSO Act,
“Children” according to the Act are individuals aged below 18 years. The Act is gender-neutral, which means that the punnishment for offender will be the same for both boys and girls. Different forms of sexual abuse including and not limited to sexual harassment, pornography, penetrative & non-penetrative assault are defined in the Act. Sexual assault is regarded to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances such as when the child is mentally ill, has some mental health issues. Also when the abuse is committed by the person in a position of trust such as a doctor, teacher, policeman, family member. Adequate provisions are made to avoid re-victimization of the Child at the hands of the judicial system. The Act assigns a policeman to gaurd in the role of child protector during the investigation process. The Act stipulates that such steps must be taken which makes the investigation process as child-friendly as possible and the case is disposed of within one year from the date of reporting of the offence. The Act provides for the establishment of Special Courts for the trial of such offences and matters related to it. Under section 45 of the Act, the power to make rules lies with the central government. To monitor the implementation of the Act, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been made the designated authority. Both being statutory bodies. Section 42 A of the Act provides that in case of inconsistency with provisions of any other law, the POCSO Act shall override such provisions. The Act calls for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. A false complaint with intent to defame a person is punishable under the Act. In simple words this Act protects Special Victims, who are in any form abused sexually and on the other hand if anyone is found filing false complaint to harm anyones image or to defame a person, it is considered a punishable offence.
To understand the Act, we have to go through general principles of POCSO act.
Here is a list of Principles :-
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 mentions 12 key principles which are to be followed by anyone, including the State Governments, the Child Welfare Committee.
- The Police, the Special Courts, NGOs or any other professional present during the trial and assisting the child during the trial must ensure the following :-
2.1 Right to life and survival – A child must be shielded from any kind of physical, psychological, mental and emotional abuse and neglect.
2.2 The primary consideration must be the harmonious development of the child and they should be treated with dignity and compassion.
2.3 Child victims should be treated in a caring and sensitive manner throughout the justice process.
- The justice process must be transparent and just- irrespective of the child’s cultural, religious, linguistic or social orientation.
- Right to special preventive measures- It suggests, that victimised children are more likely to get abused again, thus, preventive measures and training mgiven to them for self-protection.
- Right to be informed- The child victim or witness must be well informed of the legal proceedings Right to be heard and to express views and concerns
It also provides for various procedural reforms, making the tiring process of trial in India considerably easier for children. The Act has been criticised as its provisions seem to criminalise consensual sexual intercourse between two people below the age of 18. The 2001 version of the Bill did not punish consensual sexual activity if one or both partners were above 16 years.
Some FAQ’s –
Who is child as per POCSO?
Ans – As per the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, a child is defined as any person below the age of 18 years.
How long is POCSO jail?
Ans – The punishment for offenses under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 can range from imprisonment for a term that may extend to life imprisonment and a fine, depending on the severity of the crime. The exact jail term will depend on the specific circumstances of each case and the decision of the court.
What is POCSO case in India?
Ans -POCSO stands for the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 in India. It is a comprehensive law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The act defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, and provides for the punishment of the offenders. The act also provides for the protection of the child victim and the special provisions for trial in cases filed under POCSO.
How long is punishment for POCSO?
Ans – The punishment for offenses under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 in India can range from imprisonment for a term that may extend to life imprisonment and a fine, depending on the severity of the crime. The exact jail term will depend on the specific circumstances of each case and the decision of the court.
For example, the punishment for penetrative sexual assault under POCSO can range from a minimum of 7 years to life imprisonment and a fine, while for non-penetrative sexual assault the punishment can range from 3 to 5 years imprisonment and a fine.
Can you get bail in POCSO?
Ans – Whether a person charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 in India can get bail or not depends on the specific circumstances of each case and the decision of the court.
Under the act, bail can be granted if the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail. However, in cases of sexual offenses against children, the act lays down that bail shall not be granted easily and shall be granted only after considering the nature and circumstances of the offense and the evidence produced. The court may also impose such conditions as it deems fit while granting bail.
It is advisable to seek legal counsel to understand the chances of getting bail in a POCSO case.