Death penalty for sexual crimes against children now as Cabinet clears amendments to POCSO Act

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO ), which deals with crime against children, to include death penalty for a sexual attack on minors among other changes, officials said. The other amendments to the Act approved by the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi include provisions for imprisonment and fine to curb child pornography. The changes that have been approved by the Cabinet are likely to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse as it may act as a deterrent because of strong penal provisions included in the Act, the government said. It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity. The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof, it added. The Cabinet has made amendments to Section-2, Section-4, Section-5, Section-6, Section-9, Section-14, Section-15, Section-34, Section-42 as well as Section-45 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act which was introduced in 2012. It has also decided to make changes in Section-4, Section-5 and Section-6 of the POCSO Act so as to facilitate the option of tough punishment that also includes the death penalty. These sections suggest punishment for sexual or aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child. On the issue of child pornography, the Cabinet proposed changes for Section-14 and Section-15 of the POCSO Act, 2012. As a result, accused who are charged with Sections 14 and 15 of the Act will be required to pay a fine for not deleting, destroying or reporting pornographic material that involves minors. Those who are charged under these sections will be assumed that they did not remove material because of an intention to share it.