Par panel asks govt to consider reducing juvenile delinquency age to 16 under POCSO Act

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New Delhi, Mar 16 (PTI) A parliamentary panel has recommended to the government to consider bringing down the juvenile delinquency age from 18 to 16 in cases under the POCSO Act, noting that minor sexual offenders may commit more serious and heinous crime if left untreated and uncounselled.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma, in its report submitted to Rajya Sabha on Monday, observed that there has been a large number of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act where the age of juvenile offenders has been below the threshold age for applicability of the law.

The committee said that it believed that minor sexual offenders may commit more serious and heinous crime if left untreated and uncounselled. Therefore, it is very important to re-look at these provisions 'because more and more juveniles are getting involved in such crimes', the report stated.

'The committee, therefore, recommends that the MHA may take up with MoW&CD (Ministry of Women and Child Development) to review the current age limit of 18 years and see if it can be reduced to 16 years for the applicability of the POCSO Act, 2012,' the report said.

The panel said it is of the considered view that due to lack of legal awareness, particularly amongst minor children and juveniles, they are getting involved in crimes like stalking, online-trolling, molesting, etc., in their schools and colleges, considering these as non-criminal activities.

Therefore, it is necessary to impart knowledge of cyber security to them so that they do not get targeted by offenders.

The committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry of Home Affairs may take up with the Ministry of Education to include the basics of cyber security in the school curriculum at an early age, it said.

The panel observes that it is very important to conduct a nationwide campaign to create awareness amongst all sections of society regarding the use and misuse of cyber space and also about the evolving technology which is being leveraged to commit different and new types of cyber crimes.

It is also very important to protect minor children and juveniles from indulging in crimes like stalking, online-trolling, molesting, etc, it said. PTI ACB SMN