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Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO)

  • Vaid's ICS, Lucknow
  • 26, Aug 2021
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Why in News:

Legal provisions

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was enacted in 2012 especially to protect children (aged less than 18) from sexual assault.
  • Section 7 of the POCSO Act, inter alia, says that whoever with sexual intent touches the breast of the child is said to commit sexual assault.
  • Whereas Section 8 of the Act provides minimum imprisonment of three years for sexual assault
  • Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) lays down a minimum of one year imprisonment for outraging the modesty of a woman.

The POCSO Act, 2012:


  1. The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age.
  2. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography.
  3. It 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 like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
  4. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

IPC and POCSO: Differences:

  • The definition of ‘assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty’ given in the IPC is generic whereas in POCSO, the acts of sexual assault are explicitly mentioned such as touching various private parts or doing any other act which involves physical contact without penetration.
  • ‘Sexual assault’ in POCSO specifically excludes rape which requires penetration; otherwise the scope of ‘sexual assault’ under POCSO and ‘outraging modesty of a woman’ under the IPC is the same.
  • Whereas the IPC provides punishment for the offence irrespective of any age of the victim, POCSO is specific for the protection of children.
  • Higher punishment is provided under POCSO not because more ‘serious allegations’ of sexual assault are required but because the legislature wanted punishment to be more deterrent if the victims are children.
  • Therefore, once the act of ‘outraging modesty with the use of assault or criminal force’, which is nothing but ‘sexual assault’, is proved, the requisite punishment must be slapped under POCSO if the victim is a child.

Important Judgements

  • In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997), the Supreme Court held that the offence relating to modesty of woman cannot be treated as trivial.
  • In Pappu v. State of Chhattisgarh (2015), the High Court of Chhattisgarh, though it acquitted the accused under Section 354 of the IPC as the offence was found lacking in use of ‘criminal force or assault’, convicted him for sexual harassment under Section 354A which requires ‘physical contact’ and advances as a necessary element.
    • This case also pertained to squeezing the limbs and breasts of a 13-year-old girl but the High Court did not venture into the area of skin-to-skin contact.

Global examples

  • It will not be out of place to mention here that the Sexual Offences Act 2003 of the U.K. says that touching (with sexual intent) includes touching with any part of the body, with anything else or through anything.

The POCSO (Amendment) Act, 2019

  • The act aims at making offences against children gender-neutral.
  • The definition of ‘Sexual Assault’ has been extended to incorporate administration of hormones or chemical substances to children to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.
  • The Act defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child including photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child.
  • The amendments also penalize the transmitting of pornographic material to children.
  • The Act seeks to enhance punishment for sexual offences against children, with a provision of death penalty.
  • According to the amendment act, those committing penetrative sexual assaults on a child below 16 years of age would be punished with imprisonment up to 20 years, which might extend to life imprisonment as well as fine.
  • In case of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, the act increases the minimum punishment from ten years to 20 years, and the maximum punishment to death penalty.

Facts for Prelims:

Badri 313

  • The Badri 313 Batallion is a special commando-style unit that is securing the Taliban’s hold over Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan.
  • Badri 313 Brigade is named after the Battle of Badr in which Prophet Muhammad defeated the opponents with just 313 men.

‘Be Internet Awesome’ program:

Google has launched the global ‘Be Internet Awesome’ program for kids in India, wherein it will partner with Indian comic book publisher Amar Chitra Katha to offer Internet safety lessons through popular comic book characters across eight Indian languages.


It is a ‘Geospatial Planning Portal’ portal for facilitating planning at the Gram Panchayat level under MGNREGA. It will work under ISRO’s geoportal ‘Bhuvan’.

  • Bhuvan “Yuktadhara” portal has been launched by the Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
  • This platform will act as a repository of assets (Geotag) created under various National Rural Development Programs i.e. MGNREGA, Integrated Watershed Management Programme, Per Drop More Crop and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana etc.