Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO),2012: Daily Current Affairs

GS-2 Related to Children, Government Policies & Interventions

Keywords: child sexual abuse, low conviction rate, societal pressure, J S Verma Committee cyber bullying ,sex education ,special courts

Why in News:

  • Recent Allahabad High Court verdict that a penetrative sexual assault on a 10-year-old boy by an offender did not amount to an aggravated form of the crime.

  • High Court also reduced the trial court sentence of 10 years in jail to7 years.

POCSO Act 2012:

  • Gender Neutral: The Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage so as to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.

  • Definition of a Child: The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well-being of the child as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.

  • Defines forms of Sexual Abuse: forms of sexual abuse includes penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.

  • Child Trafficking: People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.

  • Definition of Child Pornography: It defines "child pornography" as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which include photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child, and image created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict a child;'

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019:

  • It seeks to provide more stringent punishment, including death penalty, for sexual crimes against children.

  • The Bill increases the minimum punishment from 7 years to 10 years.

  • Bill specifically defines what ‘child pornography’ is; ‘using a child for pornographic purposes’ and for ‘possessing or storing pornography involving a child’ is punishable. It has also widened the ambit of ‘aggravated sexual assault’.

  • It further adds that if a person commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below the age of 16 years, he will be punishable with imprisonment between 20 years to life, with a fine.

  • The amendment is expected to discourage the child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.

Challenges Related to POCSO Act:

  • Low Rate of Conviction: Abysmal rate of conviction like 14% in 2014 and 18% in 2017. The National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) data of 2016, mentions the conviction rate as 29.6%, while pendency is as high as 89%. The NCRB also mentions the cases are not disposed within a year due to reasons such as frequent adjournments, the inability of the police to file investigation report etc.

  • Less Reported Cases: Number of cases reported are low because of Societal pressure, because Child will lose trust of his/her family, Fear from the concerned person and No police help.

  • Non Establishment of Special Courts: Though, the Act mentions Special Children courts to be established to hear the cases. Many states did not establish such courts. This is highlighted by Re: Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu v. Union of India & Ors case.

  • Contention Regarding Death Penalty: Act provides a maximum punishment of death penalty. But Justice J.S. Verma Committee (Constituted on the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case) and 262nd Report of the Law Commission of India, 2015, were against the imposition of the death penalty for rape cases.

  • Difference in Judgement and Act: Section 8 of the POCSO Act prescribes a mandatory minimum sentence of three years however The State of J&K vs Vinay Nanda Case the Court held that it cannot prescribe punishment lesser than the minimum prescribed punishment.

  • More Acquittals in POCSO Cases: Percentage of acquittal is high because the Judges thinks the mandatory minimum punishment prescribed is more compared to the seriousness of the crime.

Way Forward

  • Child sexual abuse is a very serious matter. A society where the most vulnerable and innocent are regularly and dreadfully abused is indicative of a sombre situation that undoubtedly demands urgent intervention.

  • Government must amend the POCSO Act to overcome the challenges by removing the mandatory minimum sentence and the death penalty. The amendment should also include offences such as cyber bullying of children and other online sexual crimes against children.

  • Supreme Court issued a direction to set up special courts within 60 days on the districts that are having more than 100 pending POCSO cases. This has to be implemented urgently.

  • Introduction of sex education in schools and educating the children about good touch and bad touch is significant. In 2008-09 Parliamentary committee report mentions the introduction of sex education, but it never materialized. It has to be implemented.

  • Further steps like Establishment of exclusive Special Courts and investment in infrastructure, people and training, implementation of a robust victim and witness protection program are necessary for will providing the much-needed framework for ensuring support and protection to child survivors of sexual offences, enabling both higher conviction rates and greater levels of healing and rehabilitation of child survivors.


The Hindu

Times of India


Prelims Question:

Q. Consider the following statements about the POSCO Act:

1. The POCSO Act provides for compensation for medical expenses for the child offended.

2. The medical expenses may be provided after the registration of FIR onl.y

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a. Only 1

b. Only 2

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither

Ans. c

Explanation: Rule 7 provides further details in relation to the payment of this compensation. It specifies that the Special Court may order that the compensation be paid not only at the end of the trial, but also on an interim basis, to meet the immediate needs of the child for relief or rehabilitation at any stage after registration of the First Information Report.

Mains Question:

Q. Critically analyze the features of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and steps taken by the government to make it stronger to curb sexual offenses against children?