THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES (POCSO) ACT, 2012
01, Jul 2019
Prelims level : Polity and Governance Mains level : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
About POCSO Act:
- The Act seeks to protect children from offences such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.
- The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age.
- It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including 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-a-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
- The Act also makes it mandatory to report such cases. It makes it the legal duty of a person aware of the offence to report the sexual abuse. In case he fails to do so, the person can be punished with six months’ imprisonment or fine.
- The Act provides that each district shall designate a Sessions Court to be a Special Court. It shall be established by the state government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court. The Court shall, as far as possible, complete the trial within one year. The trial shall be held in camera and in the presence of the child’s parents or any person trusted by the child.
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights/ State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is mandated to monitor the implementation of the Act.
- It also provides for relief and rehabilitation of the child, as soon as the complaint is made. The Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police are also required to report the matter to the Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of recording the complaint, for long term rehabilitation of the child.
- Recently the government has introduced in Lok Sabha amendments to the POCSO Act, which provides for death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children, making it gender neutral and introducing provisions against child pornography and for enhancing punishment for certain offences.
- It is a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) initiative to help children report such crimes directly to the Commission.
- The online complaint management system enables easy reporting and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012.
National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights:
- This statutory body at the National and State level has been set up under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005.
- It is under the control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, set up in 2007.
- It consists of one Chairman and Six other members (out of which at least two are woman having experience in Child Psychology, Education etc.).