The Indian cabinet has cleared amendments to an existing gender-neutral law against sexual abuse of children introducing the provision of death penalty in cases of aggravated sexual offences and more stringent penal provisions aimed at clamping down on child pornography.
The 14 amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act 2012 was okayed at a meeting of the cabinet chaired by the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday evening.
The amendments will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty and also provide for levy of fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
The amendments, first cleared by the Cabinet in 2018, were introduced as a Bill in the Lok Sabha in February but could not be passed because of the announcement of parliamentary elections, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Among others, the amendments seek to award the death penalty in cases of aggravated penetrative sexual assault of children, making it gender neutral. The amendments also bring in a section to penalise the possession of child pornography with up to three years in jail.
The amendments also include introduction of some new sections which aim at making punishments for crimes against children, including digital offences, more stringent. These include amendments to Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the POSCO Act to increase the punishment from seven to 10 years, from 10 to 20 years and from 20 to life imprisonment and death.
The amendments also penalise the transmission of pornographic material to children and proposes a synchronising of this with the Information Technology Act.
An official statement termed the amendments as a “historic decision” to protect the children from sexual offences.