POCSO Act: Assault on child under 12 years is punishable by death

Government on Friday approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to bring punishments for sexual assaults on boys on a par with those against girls. These include the provision of death penalty when the child is under 12 years and when a penetrative sexual assault is committed by a relative.

The amendments approved by the Union Cabinet will now have to be passed by Parliament. An official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development said the government intends to introduce the amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The move will ensure that the Bill, once introduced even if not passed, will not lapse when the term of the present government comes to an end and the Lok Sabha is dissolved.

Following the outrage over the gang rape of a minor girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the government had brought an ordinance in April and followed it by passing a Bill in Parliament during the monsoon session to amend the Indian Penal Code. The changes included death penalty for gang rape of a girl under 12 years and 20 years in jail or death penalty for rape of a girl under 16 years.

Provisions were also added to provide imprisonment for the rest of one’s natural life for gang rape of a girl under 16 years, while rape of a girl in the same age bracket would be punishable with jail of minimum 20 years upto life imprisonment.

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