In order to effectively address the heinous crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, the Ministry of Women and Child Development championed the introduction of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well-being of the child as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor. People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
Under Section 44 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences(POCSO)Act and Rule 6 of POCSO Rules, 2012, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in addition to its assigned functions, also mandated:
Monitor the implementation of:
- To monitor in the implementation of the provisions of the POCSO Act, 2012;
- To monitor the designation of Special Courts by State Governments;
- To monitor the appointment of Public Prosecutors by State Governments;
- To monitor the formulation of the guidelines described in section 39 of the Act by the State Governments, for the use of non-governmental organisations, professionals and experts or persons having knowledge of psychology, social work, physical health, mental health and child development to be associated with the pre-trial and trial stage to assist the child, and to monitor the application of these guidelines;
- To monitor the designing and implementation of modules for training police personnel and other concerned persons, including officers of the Central and State Governments, for the effective discharge of their functions under the Act;
- To monitor and support the Central Government and State Governments for the dissemination of information relating to the provisions of the Act through media including the television, radio and print media at regular intervals, so as to make the general public, children as well as their parents and guardians aware of the provisions of the Act;
- To call for a report on any specific case of child sexual abuse falling within the jurisdiction of a CWC;
- To collect information and data on its own or from the relevant agencies regarding reported cases of sexual abuse and their disposal under the processes established under the Act, including information on the following:-
- Number and details of offences reported under the Act;
- Whether the procedures prescribed under the Act and rules were followed,
- Including those regarding timeframes details of arrangements for care and protection of victims of offences under this Act, including arrangements for emergency medical care and medical examination; and
- Details regarding assessment of the need for care and protection of a child by the concerned CWC in any specific case.
- To assess the implementation of the provisions of the Act and to include a report in a separate chapter in its Annual Report to the Parliament.
Keeping the mandate in view the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has constituted a Cell on POCSO. It is proposed to have One Sr. Technical Expert, One Technical Expert andTwoJunior Technical Experts. However, currently we have one Junior Technical Expert is in position.
Given the mandate under POCSO Act, OSCPCR has initiated the following activities:
- Follow-up with States/UTs on implementation status of the POCSO Act;
- Follow-up with States/UTs on implementation of victim compensation schemes;
- Information sought from State/UT Police through Questionnaire on cases booked under POCSO Act and cases being reported to district CWCs, as required U/S 19 (6) of POCSO Act CWCs;
- Questionnaire administered to State/UT Secretaries of WCD/Social Welfare/ Social Defense seeking details of cases registered with CWCs under POCSO Act;
- Circulation of the following basic informative documents among SCPCRs:
- Advisory to Police
- Child Friendly Procedures for implementing POCSO Act, 2012
- Child Victim Charter
- Pamphlet on POCSO
- Guidelines for responding to CSA (child sexual abuse) Complaints.
- Preparation of Guidelines with Lawyers Collective and UNICEF:
- Guidelines for Police,
- Guidelines for Special Courts,
- Guidelines for Special Prosecutors,
- Guidelines for CWCs, and
- Guidelines for Health professionals.
- Preparation of IEC material;
- Review of IEC material for preventing child sexual abuse prepared by State/UT and NGOs initiated to identify best practices and to disseminate same among other States/UTs.