The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 deals with sexual offences against persons below 18 years of age (defined as Children). The Act has come into force on the 14th of November, 2012, along with the rules framed thereunder.
Objective of POCSO:
- The Bill seeks to protect children from offences such as sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1992.
Main Provisions of POCSO Act:
- Any person below the age of 18 years is defined as a “child”.
- The Bill defines and seeks to penalise any person who commits offences such as “sexual harassment”, “sexual assault”, “penetrative sexual assault”, pornography, and “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”.
- The Bill also includes penalties for storage of pornographic material and abetment of an offence.
- The offence is considered graver if it is committed by a police officer, public servant, any member of the staff at a remand home, protection or observation home, jail, hospital or educational institution, or by a member of the armed or security forces.
- An offence committed under this Act shall be reported to either the local police or the Special Juvenile Police Unit who has to report the matter to the Special Court within 24 hours. The police also have to make special arrangement for the care of the child. In case a person fails to report a case, he shall be penalised. Also, the Bill includes penalties for making false complaints.
- 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 state government shall appoint a Special Public Prosecutor for every Special Court. The Court shall, as far as possible, complete the trial within one year.
- Section 39 of the POCSO Act requires the State Governments to prepare guidelines for use of NGOs, professional and experts or persons to be associated with the pre-trial and trial stage to assist the child. The trial shall be held in camera and in the presence of the child’s parents or any person trusted by the child.
- The guardian of the child has the right to take assistance from a legal counsel of his choice, subject to the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- If an offence has been committed by a child, it shall be dealt with under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
POCSO Updates Rajasthan:
55 new POCSO courts in Rajasthan
Rajasthan Government approved a proposal to set up 55 courts under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the state. Each district would have at least one such court to deal with cases of crime against children, especially rape and to ensure that accused are convicted at the earliest. One such court is already operational in the state capital. Total 660 new posts would be created and filled in these courts.
The POCSO courts would be set up in Bikaner, Balotara, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dausa, Dholpur, Dungarpur, Sriganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jaipur, Jalore, Jaisalmer, Jhunjhunu, Karauli, Merta, Pratapgarh, Rajsamand, Sawai Madhopur, Sikar, Sirohi, Jodhpur and Tonk.