Here’s all you need to know about POCSO act

A four-year-old girl has accused her class mate in a Delhi based school of sexually assaulting her twice, once with his fingers and second time with a sharpened pencil, when there was no teacher or Ayaah in the class.

The police are carefully examining the legal provisions in the case as “the Indian Penal Code provides children below seven years of age certain protection against prosecution.”

What is POCSO?

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formed to protect children from offenses of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography and to provide a child-friendly system for the trial of these offences.

Here’s all you need to know about the POCSO Act:

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 received the President’s assent on June 19, 2012 and was notified in the Gazette of India on June 20, in the year 2012
  • Except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Act extends to the whole of India
  • According to the act, “child” means any person below the age of eighteen years

Forms of sexual abuse

The Act defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, etc.

It further states that a sexual assault is to be considered “aggravated” under certain specific circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a member of the armed forces or security forces or a public servant or a person in a position of trust or authority of the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor or a person-management or staff of a hospital — whether Government or private.

Reporting of sexual abuse

The Act makes reporting of sexual offences mandatory.

It makes it the legal duty of a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offence; if he/she fails to do so, he/she may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

Trial

According to the act the evidence of the child should be recorded within a period of thirty days of the Special Court taking cognizance of the offence and the Special Court shall complete the trial, as far as possible, within a period of one year from the date of taking cognizance of the offence.

It also provides that the Special Court shall try cases in camera and in the presence of the parents of the child or any other person in whom the child has trust or confidence.

Punishment

The POCSO act also provides provisions for punishment for false complaint or false information.

The Act prescribes stringent punishment according to the gravity of the offence and prescribes rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine as punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

The Act also prescribes imprisonment of either description which may extend to three years or with fine or with both as punishment for storage of pornographic material involving child.

It also prescribes punishment to the people who traffic children for sexual purposes.

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