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Rajya Sabha passes POCSO Amendment Bill with provision of death penalty

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passed by Rajya Sabha.

The bill seeks to enhance punishment, including a provision for death penalty, for committing sexual crimes against children.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said government has sanctioned 1023 fast track courts for speedy dispensation of pending cases under POCSO and sexual assault.

18 states have given their consent to set up the fast track courts which will be established within a span of two years. The Minister said government’s priority is to ensure that justice is delivered to every child in the country.

The total expenditure in setting up these courts will be 767 crore rupees out of which 474 crore rupees will be borne by the Centre. She said these Courts will function in addition to the existing sessions courts.

Ms Irani said, an evaluation would be made to ensure the quality of justice that was dispensed, through an institution empanelled by Niti Aayog with regards to this process, which the government is about to undertake.She  said that currently 75000 children are in 2000 child care homes.

She said, a National data base of sexual offenders has also been launched by Home Ministry last year and contains data of six lakh 20 thousand sexual offenders in the country. The data helps when such person goes for employment and the institution sends their information for police verification.

In order to curb child pornography, the Bill provides that those who use a child for pornographic purposes should be punished with imprisonment up to five years and a fine. However, in the event of second or subsequent conviction, the punishment would be up to seven years and fine.

The Bill defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child including photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child.

According to the amendment bill, those committing penetrative sexual assaults on a child below 16 years of age would be punished with imprisonment up to 20 years, which might extend to life imprisonment as well as fine.

In case of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, the bill increases the minimum punishment from ten years to 20 years, and the maximum punishment to death penalty.

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