--- All below 18 years would be treated as children
--- Special courts for speedy trial
--- In-camera trial of offences
The Parliament approved a Bill to protect children below 18 from sexual abuse, set up special courts for speedy trial of cases against them and provide stringent punishment extending up to life term for offenders.
"The Bill is gender neutral. It seeks to protect children from sexual offences... the burden of proof will be on the accused," Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said winding up the debate in the Lok Sabha on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011.
The Bill, which was earlier cleared by the Rajya Sabha (10th May, 2012), was approved by the Lower House by voice vote on 22 May 2012.
Tirath said all below 18 years would be treated as children and efforts have been made to keep provisions of the Bill child-friendly. It contains provisions for in-camera trial of offences, she said.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 has been drafted to strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For the first time, a special law has been passed to address the issue of sexual offences against children.
Sexual offences are currently covered under different sections of IPC. The IPC does not provide for all types of sexual offences against children and, more importantly, does not distinguish between adult and child victims.
An offence is treated as “aggravated” when committed by a person in a position of trust or authority of child such as a member of security forces, police officer, public servant, etc.
Punishments for Offences covered in the Act are:
- Penetrative Sexual Assault (Section 3) – Not less than seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and fine (Section 4)
- Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault (Section 5) – Not less than ten years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and fine (Section 6)
- Sexual Assault (Section 7) – Not less than three years which may extend to five years, and fine (Section 8 )
- Aggravated Sexual Assault (Section 9) – Not less than five years which may extend to seven years, and fine (Section 10)
- Sexual Harassment of the Child (Section 11) – Three years and fine (Section 12)
- Use of Child for Pornographic Purposes (Section 13) – Five years and fine and in the event of subsequent conviction, seven years and fine (Section 14 (1))
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 to monitor the implementation of the Act.
VIEW FULL TEXT OF THE BILL