A point to ponder over in the POCSO
Bill (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: POCSO Bill
Mains level: Highlights the amendment in POCSO Bill 2019
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019
was passed by both Houses of Parliament. It is all set to become the ‘law of
Key highlights of the bill
- The present bill is welcome in certain respects as it specifically
defines what ‘child pornography’ is; ‘using a child for pornographic
purposes’ and for ‘possessing or storing pornography involving a child’ is
- It has also widened the ambit of ‘Aggravated sexual assault’.
- This included the introduction of the death penalty for the rape of
- The introduction of the death penalty may backfire in cases of child
sexual abuse and even have a catastrophic effect.
- Often, the perpetrators of abuse are family members and having such
penalty in the statute book may discourage the registration of the crime
- Also, it may threaten the life of the minor as the maximum punishment
for murder is also the death sentence.
- The Justice J.S. Verma Committee, which was constituted in 2013 in the
aftermath of the Nirbhaya case, after due deliberations found itself against
the imposition of death penalty in rape cases.
- The 262nd Report of the Law Commission of India, 2015, also provides for
abolition of the death penalty except in terror cases.
- By introducing the death penalty, portrays itself to be strict and
serious with regard to such offences.
- It largely diverts attention from the core issues of infrastructural
apathy, procedural lapses and trial delays and conveniently evades the fact
that ‘it is the certainty of punishment rather than its severity which has
deterrence in real sense’.
- It is pertinent to note here that even a year-and-a-half after the
passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which introduced the
death penalty for rape of a minor girl, such incidents have not been under
- The debate here is not about retaining or abolishing the death penalty
but the probable ramifications of its provision in the Act.
- The court has also observed that it intends having a ‘zero tolerance
policy’ toward child rape. As data on sexual crimes against children
collected by the court show, 24,212 FIRs were filed across India from
January to June this year.
- According to National Crime Records Bureau data of 2016, the conviction
rate in POCSO cases is 29.6% while pendency is as high as 89%. The
prescribed time period of two months for trial in such cases is hardly
- The court has also taken note of the delay in trials, in turn directing
the Central Government to set up special courts within 60 days of the order
in each district having more than 100 pending cases under the Act.
- It is to be seen how long it takes to comply with the order.
- The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 introduced the death penalty for
rape of girls below the age of 12.
- At the same time, the POCSO Act, under Section 42, provides that where
the same act constitutes an offence under the said Act and any other law,
then the offender will be punished under the Act or such law, whichever
provides for greater punishment.
- This has created an issue as the effect of such an amendment was death
penalty for rape of minor girls but not for assault against minor boys.
- The proposed Bill does away with such a discrepancy.
- It is gender neutral and provides for the death penalty for “aggravated
penetrative sexual assault of a child”, thus bringing both these pieces of
legislation on a par with each other in this respect.
- With these amendments and with the Supreme Court considering child abuse
“intolerable”, there seems to be reasonable hope now that vulnerable
children could be safer.
- The Bill is a step forward in preventing child abuse but the
consequences of providing for the death penalty need to be closely observed.
Q.1) Consider the following statements with reference to the Air India
Asset Holding Company Limited (AIAHCL):
1. It is a special purpose vehicle (SPV), is 100% owned by the Government of
2. It will house the non-core assets such as the ground-handling arm and land.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. All the above
Q.1) Describe the key changes made in The POCSO Bill 2019 amendment.