WCD, Law ministries resolve differences on sexual offence bill
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Last Updated: Thursday, September 23, 2010, 23:31
New Delhi: The Ministries of Women and Child Development and Law have resolved their differences over a special legislation for protection of children from sexual offences after a rap from Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The new law will cover all new aspects of sexual offences against children not covered elsewhere with provision for stringent punishment. Once through, this law will take precedence over any other existing law.

The move is a follow-up of Gandhi's letter to WCD minister Krishna Tirath asking her to hasten the pace of a legislation focusing on sexual abuse of the children.

She had asked WCD ministry to coordinate with the Law Ministry which had already prepared a law on similar lines.

"I understand that this omnibus legislation is likely to take some time...There is a need to immediately bring a law that addresses the issue of sexual offences against children with care and sensitivity, without waiting for a more comprehensive legislation on child offences in general which may take time," Gandhi had written to Tirath in her capacity as chairperson of National Advisory Council (NAC).

After the nudge from Sonia, the two ministries got their acts together and readied the draft of the proposed legislation.

Reporting the progress on the matter, Tirath has now informed Gandhi that the bill has already been vetted by the secretaries of both ministries and is ready for circulation for soliciting the views of different departments and ministries.

In her letter to Gandhi, she informed that the bill is likely to be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament.

The proposed law aims to protect children against offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography and provide for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences.

The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been proposed as at least five years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in an inappropriate way which will invite a penalty of minimum three years in jail.

There is a special provision preventing use of child for pornographic purpose or possessing pornographic material involving children. There will an obligation on media, studio and photographic facilities to report such cases and failure to do so will attract punishment.

To prevent misuse of this law, there is deterrent factor on false complaints and false information leading to six-month jail term.

There will be set procedure for media on reporting that would bar giving details of the victim and accused children's family or personal details or any form of reporting that can lead to their identification. Besides, it proposes special courts and more sensitive ways in dealing with crime against children.


First Published: Thursday, September 23, 2010, 23:31

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