New Delhi, July 12: The Women and Child Development Ministry has proposed changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, according to which any sexually explicit digital or computer generated content involving children will come under the purview of "child pornography".
The bill, which provides for punishment, including death, for sexual assault against children, was approved by the Cabinet chaired by PM Modi. The bill is expected to be introduced again in the Lok Sabha on Friday.
The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday approved the amendments to the POCSO Act. According to the new definition, child pornography is "any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which includes photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child and an image created, adapted or modified but appear to depict a child".
According to the new bill, anyone who stores or possesses child pornographic material and does not destroy or report it will be liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000. In case the offence is repeated, the fine levied would be Rs 10,000. The fine proposed in the earlier amendment bill was Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively, but it was felt the amount would not have been a huge deterrent to offenders.
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The initiative to define child pornography has been taken by WCD Minister Smriti Irani to convey the message that from now there will be zero tolerance for child pornography and for that reason definition of child pornography was essential, the ministry spokesperson said. She said that definition leads to setting the context of the crime.
"Only prescribing punishment leads to possibility that the case may get entangled in inconclusive legal battles. It also underlines and enforces citizens responsibility to report and destroy, because not reporting is an evidence of crime," she said.
The changes are expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.