Child Sexual Abuse Laws: An Analytical Study:
By Nemi Bhavsar
India's child sexual abuse laws were enacted as part of the country's child protection policies.
On May 22, 2012, India's Parliament enacted the 'Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Bill , 2011' into law, which addresses child sexual abuse. The Act was passed to protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography, as well as to establish Special Courts for the trial of such crimes and matters related to or incidental to them.The state's protection of children is guaranteed to Indian citizens under an expansive interpretation of Article 21 of the Indian constitution, as well as mandated by India's status as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Satish Ragade V. State Of Maharashtra (2021)
Coram: Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court
In the present case, the mother of the girl lodged a report at police station asserting that the appellant took her minor daughter on the excuse of giving her guava in the house and groped her breast and tried to remove her salwar.
The special court convicted the appellant and sentenced him for three years for the offenses punishable under the provisions of sections 354, 363, 342 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 8 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act).
The Issue raised was:
Whether the accused is liable for the punishment provided under sections 354, 342, 363 of IPC and section 8 of the POCSO Act?
The Bombay High Court held that, groping a minor's breast without skin to skin contact cannot be referred to as sexual harassment, and acquitted the accused under section 7 of the POCSO Act, and convicted him under the above mentioned provisions of the IPC, hereby reducing his sentence.
The 2019 Amendment Act
There was a surge in the commission of crimes related to children, which called for an immediate need to make punishment under the POCSO Act stringent, so that it acts as deterrence for the offenders. Deterrence creates fear in the society so that the offender refrains from committing criminal acts in the future. The amendment act mainly contains provisions for increased punishments.
The amendment act allows for the fine imposed on the convict to be just and reasonable and must be paid to the victim to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of such victim. Earlier, in most cases the victim didn't have resources to get back from mental and physical trauma.
The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been increased from seven to ten years, and where the sexual assault has been committed on a child below sixteen years of age, the imprisonment shall not be less than twenty years and may extend to the imprisonment for the remainder of the natural life of that person.
By adding a subsection to section 9, administering any drug, hormone, or chemical substance to a child with the goal that such child attains early sexual maturity has been included in the definition of aggravated sexual assault.
Amendment act puts rigorous punishment for using a child for pornographic purposes. Earlier, the punishment was for a maximum of five years for the first time convict, and for a maximum of seven years in the event of second and subsequent conviction. After the amendment, it amends to a minimum of five years in case of first time convict, whereas for a minimum of seven years in the event of second conviction.