To combat rising cases of child sex abuse, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to strengthen the POCSO Act by including death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children, besides providing stringent punishments for other crimes against minors, officials said.
The proposed changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act also provide for fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.
The modification in the law will address the need for stringent measures against rising trend of child sex abuse in the country and combat the menace of relatively new kind of crimes, the government said, stressing that the strong penal provisions will act as a deterrent.
"It intends to protect the interests of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity. The amendment is aimed at establishing clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof," it said.
The government, in a statement, said the amendments in Section-2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 14, 15, 34,42 and 45 of the POCSO Act, 2012 are being made to address the aspects of child sexual abuse in an appropriate manner.
"Section-4, 5 and 6 are proposed to be amended to provide option of stringent punishment, including death penalty, for committing sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault crime on a child to protect the children from sexual abuse," it said.
The amendments are also proposed in Section-9 to protect children from sexual offences in times of natural calamities and other similar situations and in cases where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault, the statement said.
"Section-14 and Section-15 of the POCSO Act, 2012 are also proposed to be amended to address the menace of child pornography. It is proposed to levy fine for not destroying or deleting or reporting the pornographic material involving a child with an intention to share or transmit it," the government said.