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Shri Naveen Patnaik
Hon'ble Chief Minister, Odisha
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POCSO

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

In order to address the problem of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, the Government of India has brought in a special law, namely, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The Act has come into force with effect from 14th November, 2012 along with the Rules framed there under.

The POCSO Act, 2012 is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.

POCSO Act lists all forms of sexual assault, including touching and non-touching behaviours/gestures.

Salient Features of POCSO Act

  • Children are defined as persons below the age of 18 years.
  • The Act is gender neutral, i.e., it recognizes that the victims and the perpetrators of the offence can be male, female or third gender.
  • It raises the age of sexual consent from 16 years to 18 years, by making all sexual activity with a minor a statutory sexual offence.
  • Reporting of a Child Sexual Abuse case Under Section 19 of the POCSO  Act, ‘Reporting of offences’ by any person including the child has been  made mandatory.
  • Section 21 of the Act provides punishment for failure to report or record a child sexual abuse case. However, a child cannot be punished for  failure to report {S.21 (2)}.
  • Burden of Proof on the Accused

Under Section 44 of the POCSO Act and Rule 6 of the POCSO Rules, SCPCRs have been vested with the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the provisions of the POCSO Act. This would include monitoring the designation of Special Courts at the district level, appointment of Special Public Prosecutors to these courts, setting up of SJPUs, formulation of guidelines by the State for NGOs, health professionals and experts associated with the pre-trial and trial stage to assist the victims and monitoring the application of these guidelines.

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