WCD, Law ministries resolve differences on sexual offence bill

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.

PTI



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

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