The Ministry of Women and Child Development notified the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019 (“Amendment Act”) on August 16, 2019. The Amendment Act modifies the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (“POCSO Act”), with a view to enhance or provide for minimum imprisonment periods for certain offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety and security for children – defined as any child below 18 years of age.
Below is a summary of some of the key changes:-
1. Penetrative Sexual Assault:
· Persons convicted of penetrative sexual assault would be subject to enhanced imprisonment of not less than 10 years, which may extend to life imprisonment, and fine which should cover medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim.
· If the age of the victim is below 16 years of age, imprisonment of not less than 20 years would be applicable.
2. Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault:
· The definition of ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault’ will now include sexual assault which causes death of a child, or which occurs during a natural calamity.
· Persons convicted of aggravated penetrative sexual assault would be subject to enhanced punishment of not less than 20 years, which may extend to life imprisonment, with fine to cover medical expenses or death penalty.
3. Using a child for pornographic purposes: is now punishable with imprisonment of not less than 5 years, with fine.
4. Storage of pornographic material: is now punishable with enhanced imprisonment ranging between three to five years, or a fine, or both. In addition to storage of child pornographic material, failure to delete or destroy or report child pornographic materials, or transmitting or distributing the same will also be punishable, except when done for use as evidence.
5. Higher punishment to prevail: if an offence is punishable under the POCSO Act, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 or the Information Technology Act, 2000, the higher prescribed penalty will prevail.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.