April 24, 2024

Syllabus: General studies paper 1 (child rights)


Recently, the Supreme Court had to injunct an interpretation of ‘skin-to-skin contact’ given by the Bombay High Court.

More in News:

  1. Over the last nine years, India has sought to “protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography” through the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
  2. But the POCSO act has so far not been able to bring about the desirable change.
  3. Protection of children by the state is guaranteed to Indian citizens by an expansive reading of Article 21 of the Constitution of Indiaand also mandated given India’s status as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  4. Before the implementation of the POCSO Act, the Goa Children’s Act, 2003, was the only specific piece of child abuse legislation.

About Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012:

About Historical Child Abuse:

  • It refers to incidents that are reported late.
    1. Child abuse is not just confined to institutions but also includes intra-familial abuse where it is difficult for the child to report the offence or offender at the earliest point in time.
    2. Every act of crime must be reported at the earliest and any delay in filing the complaint dilutes the efficacy of the prosecution’s case.
  • The delays in reporting sexual abuse after a considerable passage of time may be due to the factors of:
    1. Threats from the perpetrator,
    2. Fear of public humiliation,
    3. Absence of trustworthy confidant, and
    4. The accommodation syndrome (where the child keeps the abuse a secret because of the fear that no one will believe the abuse).

Where the fundamental problem lies?

  • One of the major drawbacks of delayed reporting is the lack of evidence to advance prosecution.
  • It is believed that there would be less than 5% chance of gathering direct physical and medical evidence in such cases.
  • India, in particular, suffers from a lack of procedural guidance as to how to prosecute historical cases of child sexual abuse.
  • In contrast, the U.K. has issued detailed Guidelines on Prosecuting Cases of Child Sexual Abuse under the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 to assist the police in such cases.

What are Current Laws?

  • Provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code (crpc) prohibit judicial magistrates from taking cognisance of cases beyond a specific time period.
  • Cases involving child sexual abuse not amounting to rape as defined under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Prior to the enactment of POCSO in 2012, would presumably be classified under the lesser, and somewhat frivolous, offence of outraging the modesty of a woman (Section 354 of the IPC).
  • Any reporting of an offence, under Section 354 of the IPC, more than three years after the date of the incident would be barred by the crpc.
  • This presents a legal barrier against the registration of historical child sexual offences which took place before 2012.
  • The limitation provisions were incorporated into the crpc to avert delayed prosecution but child sexual abuse must not be viewed in the same manner as other criminal offences.
  • One of the major drawbacks of delayed reporting is the lack of evidence for advance prosecution.

Need to review the law:

  • A recent case of Purnima Govindarajulu in 2018 who launched an online campaign to raise awareness leading to:
  • The Union Ministry of Law and Justice clarified that no time limit shall apply for POCSO cases.
  • It still fails to address the plight of children who were victims of historical sexual abuse before 2012.
  • The Union government must frame guidelines to direct effective and purposeful prosecution in cases that are not covered by the POCSO.

Question- “POCSO Act, although established to fill up the lacuna in preventing sexual harassment of children has not been able to provide desired results.”Explain in context of the recent Supreme Court directions.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

© 2024 Civilstap Himachal Design & Development