Bill on death penalty for child sex abuse introduced in Rajya Sabha

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani

In an attempt to combat rising cases of child sex abuse, a Bill for enhancing punishment for committing sexual crimes against children was introduced in Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The proposed legislation includes a provision for death penalty for such crimes and also aims to curb child pornography by making provisions for imprisonment up to seven years, besides a fine.

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani introduced the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill 2019, that seeks to amend the existing POCSO law of 2012.

The amendment Bill said: …as there is a strong need to take stringent measures to deter the rising trend of child sex abuse in the country, the proposed amendments make provisions for enhancement of punishments for various offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety, security and dignified childhood for a child.

It empowers Centre to make rules for the manner of deleting or destroying or reporting about pornographic material in any form involving a child to the designated authority .

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. Whoever commits aggravated penetrative sexual assault shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than 20 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of natural life of that person and shall also be liable to fine or with death, the Bill said.

The Bill provides that those who use a child for pornographic purposes should be punished with imprisonment for up to five years and a fine. In the event of second or subsequent conviction, the punishment would be up to 7 years and fine.