Pradeep K Khatana
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (the said Act) has been enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
2. The said Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage so as to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
3. However, in the recent past incidences of child sexual abuse cases demonstrating the inhumane mind-set of the abusers, who have been barbaric in their approach towards young victims, is rising in the country. Children are becoming easy prey because of their tender age, physical vulnerabilities and inexperience of life and society. The unequal balance of power leading to the gruesome act may also detriment the mind of the child to believe that might is right and reported studies establish that children who have been victims of sexual violence in their childhood become more abusive later in their life. The report of the National Crime Records Bureau for the year 2016 indicate increase in the number of cases registered under the said Act from 44.7 per cent. in 2013 over 2012 and 178.6 per cent. in 2014 over 2013 and no decline in the number of cases thereafter.
4. The Supreme Court, in the matter of Machhi Singh vs. State of Punjab [1983 (3) SCC 470], held that when the community feels that for the sake of self-preservation the killer has to be killed, the community may well withdraw the protection by sanctioning the death penalty. But the community will not do so in every case. It may do so in rarest of rare cases when its collective conscience is so shocked that it will expect the holders of the judicial power centre to inflict death penalty irrespective of their personal opinion as regards desirability or otherwise of retaining death penalty. The same analogy has been reiterated by the Supreme Court in the matter of Devender Pal Singh vs. State (NCT of Delhi) [AIR 2002 SC 1661] wherein it was held that when the collective conscience of the community is so shocked, the court must award death sentence.
5. In the above backdrop, as there is a strong need to take stringent measures to deter the rising trend of child sex abuse in the country, the proposed amendments to the said Act make provisions for enhancement of punishments for various offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety, security and dignified childhood for a child. It also empowers the Central Government to make rules for the manner of deleting or destroying or reporting about pornographic material in any form involving a child to the designated authority.
6. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, for the aforementioned purpose, which was introduced and pending consideration and passing in the Lok Sabha, lapsed on the dissolution of the Sixteenth Lok Sabha. Hence, the present Bill.
7. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objectives.